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Copyright, 1914, by Ridgway Co. 

Copyright, 1914, by Ridgway Co. 

Copyright, 1914, by G. Bernard Shaw. 

Copyright, 1916, by G. Bernard Shaw. 

All rights reserved. 


Androcles and the Lion . 

Preface on the Prospects of Christianity 
Why not give Christianity a Trial? 
Why Jesus more than Another ? 
Was Jesus a Coward? 
Was Jesus a Martyr? . 
The Gospels without Prejudice 
The Gospels now unintelligible to 


Worldliness of the Majority 
Religion of the Minority. Salva- 


The Difference between Atonement 

and Punishment 
Salvation at first a Class Privilege 

and the Remedy . . . 

Retrospective Atonement; and the 

Expectation of the Redeemer 
Completion of the Scheme by Luther 

and Calvin .... 
John Barleycorn 

Looking for the End of the World 
The Honor of Divine Parentage 


The Annunciation : the Massacr 

the Flight xxxii 

John the Baptist xxxiii 













vi Contents 

Jesus joins the Baptists . . . xxxiv 
The Savage John and the Civilized 

Jesus xxxiv 











Jesus not a Proselytist 

The Teachings of Jesus 

The Miracles .... 

Matthew imputes Bigotry to Jesus 

The Great Change 

Jerusalem and the Mystical Sacrifice 

Not this Man but Barabbas 

The Resurrection 

Date of Matthew's Narrative . 

Class Type of Matthew's Jesus 


The Women Disciples and the As 



Luke the Literary Artist . 
The Charm of Luke's Narrative 
The Touch of Parisian Romance 
Waiting for the Messiah . 

John liii 

A New Story and a New Character . liii 

John the Immortal Eye Witness . liv 

The Peculiar Theology of Jesus . lvii 
John agreed as to the Trial and 

Crucifixion . . . - . . lviii 

Credibility of the Gospels ... Ix 

Fashions of Belief .... lxii 

Credibility and Truth . . . lxiii 
Christian Iconolatry and the Peril 

of the Iconoclast .... Ixv 










The Alternative to Barabbas . . lxvii 

The Reduction to Modern Practice 

of Christianity lxix 

Modern Communism . 

Redistribution .... 

Shall He Who Makes, Own? . 

Labor Time 

The Dream of Distribution Accord 
ing to Merit .... 

Vital Distribution 

Equal Distribution 

The Captain and the Cabin Boy 

The Political and Biological Objec- 
tions to Inequality . 

Jesus as Economist 

Jesus as Biologist 

Money the Midwife of Scientific 
Communism .... 

Judge Not 

Limits to Free Will . 

Jesus on Marriage and the Family 

Why Jesus did not Marry . 

Inconsistency of the Sex Instinct 

For Better for Worse . 

The Remedy .... 

The Case for Marriage 

Celibacy no Remedy . 

After the Crucifixion . 

The Vindictive Miracles and the 
Stoning of Stephen . 


The Confusion of Christendom 

The Secret of Paul's Success 

Paul's Qualities . 

The Acts of the Apostles . 




























The Controversies on Baptism and 

Transubstantiation . 
The Alternative Christs 
Credulity no Criterion 
Belief in Personal Immortality no 


The Secular View Natural, not 

Rational, therefore Inevitable 
"The Higher Criticism" . 
The Perils of Salvationism 
The Importance of Hell in the Sal 

vation Scheme .... 
The Right to refuse Atonement 
The Teaching of Christianity . 
Christianity and the Empire 

Appendix to the Play 












The Alleviations of Monogamy 

Inaccessibility of the Facts 

The Convention of Jealousy 

The Missing Data of a Scientific 

Natural History of Marriage 
Artificial Retribution . 
The Favorite Subject of Farcical 


The Pseudo Sex Play . . . 
Art and Morality 
The Limits of Stage Presentation 
Pruderies of the French Stage . 
Our Disillusive Scenery 




Contents ix 


Holding the Mirror up to Nature . 73 
Farcical Comedy Shirking its Subject 74 

Pygmalion 107 

Preface 109 

A Professor of Phonetics . . . 109 

Sequel ' 209 

What Happened Afterwards . . 209 




Why not give Christianity a Trial ? 

The question seems a hopeless one after 2000 years of 
resolute adherence to the old cry of "Not this man, but 
Barabbas." Yet it is beginning to look as if Barabbas 
was a failure, in spite of his strong right hand, his vic- 
tories, his empires, his millions of money, and his mor- 
alities and churches and political constitutions. "This 
man" has not been a failure yet; for nobody has ever 
been sane enough to try his way. But he has had one 
quaint triumph. Barabbas has stolen his name and taken 
his cross as a standard. There is a sort of compliment 
in that. There is even a sort of loyalty in it, like that 
of the brigand who breaks every law and yet claims to 
be a patriotic subject of the king who makes them. We 
have always had a curious feeling that though we cruci- 
fied Christ on a stick, he somehow managed to get hold 
of the right end of it, and that if we were better men 
we might try his plan. There have been one or two 
grotesque attempts at it by inadequate people, such as 
the Kingdom of God in Munster, which was ended by 
a crucifixion so much more atrocious than the one on 
Calvary that the bishop who took the part of Annas went 
home and died of horror. But responsible people have 
never made such attempts. The moneyed, respectable, 
capable world has been steadily anti-Christian and Bar- 
abbasque since the crucifixion; and the specific doctrine 
of Jesus has not in all that time been put into political 

xiv Androcles and the Lion 

or general social practice. I am no more a Christian 
than Pilate was, or you, gentle reader; and yet, like 
Pilate, I greatly prefer Jesus to Annas and Caiaphas; 
and I am ready to admit that after contemplating $ie 
world and human nature for nearly sixty years, I see 
no way out of the world's misery but the way which 
would have been found by Christ's will if he had un- 
dertaken the work of a modern practical statesman. 

Pray do not at this early point lose patience with me 
and shut the book. I assure you I am as sceptical and 
scientific and modern a thinker as you will find any- 
where. I grant you I know a great deal more about 
economics and politics than Jesus did, and can do things 
he could not do. I am by all Barabbasque standards 
a person of much better character and standing, and 
greater practical sense. I have no sympathy with vaga- 
bonds and talkers who try to reform society by taking 
men away from their regular productive work and mak- 
ing vagabonds and talkers of them too; and if I had 
been Pilate I should have recognized as plainly as he 
the necessity for suppressing attacks on the existing 
social order, however corrupt that order might be, by 
people with no knowledge of government and no power 
to construct political machinery to carry out their views, 
acting on the very dangerous delusion that the end of 
the world was at hand. I make no defence of such 
Christians as Savonarola and John of Ley den : they were 
scuttling the ship before they had learned how to build 
a raft; and it became necessary to throw them overboard 
to save the crew. I say this to set myself right with 
respectable society; but I must still insist that if Jesus 
could have worked out the practical problems of a Com- 
munist constitution, an admitted obligation to deal with 
crime without revenge or punishment, and a full assump- 
tion by humanity of divine responsibilities, he would 
have conferred an incalculable benefit on mankind, be- 

Preface xv 

cause these distinctive demands of his are now turning 
out to be good sense and sound economics. 

I say distinctive, because his common humanity and 
his subjection to time and space (that is, to the Syrian 
life of his period) involved his belief in many things, 
true and false, that in no way distinguish him from other 
Syrians of that time. But such common beliefs do not 
constitute specific Christianity any more than wearing 
a beard, working in a carpenter's shop, or believing that 
the earth is flat and that the stars could drop on it from 
heaven like hailstones. Christianity interests practical 
statesmen now because of the doctrines that distinguished 
Christ from the Jews and the Bar abbas ques generally, 
including ourselves. 

Why Jesus more than Another ? 

I do not imply, however, that these doctrines were 
peculiar to Christ. A doctrine peculiar to one man would 
be only a craze, unless its comprehension depended on a 
development of human faculty so rare that only one ex- 
ceptionally gifted man possessed it. But even in this 
case it would be useless, because incapable of spreading. 
Christianity is a step in moral evolution which is inde- 
pendent of any individual preacher. If Jesus had never 
existed (and that he ever existed in any other sense 
than that in which Shakespear's Hamlet existed has been 
vigorously questioned) Tolstoy would have thought and 
taught and quarrelled with the Greek Church all the 
same. Their creed has been fragmentarily practised to 
a considerable extent in spite of the fact that the laws 
of all countries treat it, in effect, as criminal. Many of 
its advocates have been militant atheists. But for some 
reason the imagination of white mankind has picked 
out Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, and attributed all 
the Christian doctrines to him; and as it is the doctrine 

xvi Androcles and the Lion 

and not the man that matters, and, as, besides, one sym- 
bol is as good as another provided everyone attaches the 
same meaning to it, I raise, for the moment, no question 
as to how far the gospels are original, and how far they 
consist of Greek and Chinese interpolations. The record 
that Jesus said certain things is not invalidated by a 
demonstration that Confucius said them before him. 
Those who claim a literal divine paternity for him cannot 
be silenced by the discovery that the same claim was made 
for Alexander and Augustus. And I am not just now 
concerned with the credibility of the gospels as records 
of fact; for I am not acting as a detective, but turning 
our modern lights on to certain ideas and doctrines in 
them which disentangle themselves from the rest because 
they are flatly contrary to common practice, common 
sense, and common belief, and yet have, in the teeth of 
dogged incredulity and recalcitrance, produced an irre- 
sistible impression that Christ, though rejected by his 
posterity as an unpractical dreamer, and executed by his 
contemporaries as a dangerous anarchist and blasphem- 
ous madman, was greater than his judges. 

Was Jesus a Coward ? 

I know quite well that this impression of superiority 
is not produced on everyone, even of those who profess 
extreme susceptibility to it. Setting aside the huge mass 
of inculcated Christ-worship which has no real signifi- 
cance because it has no intelligence, there is, among peo- 
ple who are really free to think for themselves on the 
subject, a great deal of hearty dislike of Jesus and of 
contempt for his failure to save himself and overcome his 
enemies by personal bravery and cunning as Mahomet 
did. I have heard this feeling expressed far more im- 
patiently by persons brought up in England as Chris- 
tians than by Mahometans, who are, like their prophet, 

Preface xvii 

very civil to Jesus, and allow him a place in their esteem 
and veneration at least as high as we accord to John the 
Baptist. But this British bulldog contempt is founded 
on a complete misconception of his reasons for sub- 
mitting voluntarily to an ordeal of torment and death. 
The modern Secularist is often so determined to regard 
Jesus as a man like himself and nothing more, that he 
slips unconsciously into the error of assuming that Jesus 
shared that view. But it is quite clear from the New 
Testament writers (the chief authorities for believing 
that Jesus ever existed) that Jesus at the time of his 
death believed himself to be the Christ, a divine person- 
age. It is therefore absurd to criticize his conduct be- 
fore Pilate as if he were Colonel Roosevelt or Admiral 
von Tirpitz or even Mahomet. Whether you accept his 
belief in his divinity as fully as Simon Peter did, or re- 
ject it as a delusion which led him to submit to torture 
and sacrifice his life without resistance in the conviction 
that he would presently rise again in glory, you are 
equally bound to admit that, far from behaving like a 
coward or a sheep, he shewed considerable physical for- 
titude in going through a cruel ordeal against which he 
could have defended himself as effectually as he cleared 
the moneychangers out of the temple. "Gentle Jesus, 
meek and mild" is a snivelling modern invention, with 
no warrant in the gospels. St. Matthew would as soon 
have thought of applying such adjectives to Judas Mac- 
cabeus as to Jesus; and even St. Luke, who makes Jesus 
polite and gracious, does not make him meek. The pic- 
ture of him as an English curate of the farcical comedy 
type, too meek to fight a policeman, and everybody's 
butt, may be useful in the nursery to soften children; 
but that such a figure could ever have become a centre 
of the world's attention is too absurd for discussion; 
grown men* and women may speak kindly of a harmless 
creature who utters amiable sentiments and is a helpless 

xviii Androcles and the Lion 

nincompoop when he is called on to defend them; but 
they will not follow him, nor do what he tells them, 
because they do not wish to share his defeat and disgrace. 

Was Jesus a Martyr ? 

It is important therefore that we should clear our 
minds of the notion that Jesus died, as some of are in 
the habit of declaring, for his social and political opin- 
ions. There have been many martyrs to those opinions; 
but he was not one of them, nor, as his words shew, did 
he see any more sense in martyrdom than Galileo did. 
He was executed by the Jews for the blasphemy of 
claiming to be a God; and Pilate, to whom this was a 
mere piece of superstitious nonsense, let them execute 
him as the cheapest way of keeping them quiet, on the 
formal plea that he had committed treason against Rome 
by saying that he was the King of the Jews. He was 
not falsely accused, nor denied full opportunities of de- 
fending himself. The proceedings were quite straight- 
forward and regular; and Pilate, to whom the appeal 
lay, favored him and despised his judges, and was evi- 
dently willing enough to be conciliated. But instead of 
denying the charge, Jesus repeated the offence. He 
knew what he was doing: he had alienated numbers of his 
own disciples and been stoned in the streets for doing 
it before. He was not lying: he believed literally what 
he said. The horror of the High Priest was perfectly 
natural: he was a Primate confronted with a heterodox 
street preacher uttering what seemed to him an appall- 
ing and impudent blasphemy. The fact that the blas- 
phemy was to Jesus a simple statement of fact, and that 
it has since been accepted as such by all western nations, 
does not invalidate the proceedings, nor give us the right 
to regard Annas and Caiaphas as worse men than the 
Archbishop of Canterbury and the Head Master of 

Preface xix 

Eton. If Jesus had been indicted in a modern court, he 
would have been examined by two doctors; found to be 
obsessed by a delusion; declared incapable of pleading; 
and sent to an asylum : that is the whole difference. But 
please note that when a man is charged before a modern 
tribunal (to take a case that happened the other day) of 
having asserted and maintained that he was an officer 
returned from the front to receive the Victoria Cross at 
the hands of the King, although he was in fact a me- 
chanic, nobody thinks of treating him as afflicted with a 
delusion. He is punished for false pretences, because 
his assertion is credible and therefore misleading. Just 
so, the claim to divinity made by Jesus was to the High 
Priest, who looked forward to the coming of a Messiah, 
one that might conceivably have been true, and might 
therefore have misled the people in a very dangerous 
way. That was why he treated Jesus as an imposter 
and a blasphemer where we should have treated him as a 

The Gospels without Prejudice. 

All this will become clear if we read the gospels with- 
out prejudice. When I was young it was impossible to 
read them without fantastic confusion of thought. The 
confusion was so utterly confounded that it was called 
the proper spirit to read the Bible in. Jesus was a 
baby; and he was older than creation. He was a man 
who could be persecuted, stoned, scourged, and killed; 
and he was a god, immortal and all-powerful, able to 
raise the dead and call millions of angels to his aid. 
It was a sin to doubt either view of him: that is, it was 
a sin to reason about him; and the end was that you did 
not reason about him, and read about him only when you 
were compelled. When you heard the gospel stories 
read in church, or learnt them from painters and poets, 

xx Androcles and the Lion 

you came out with an impression of their contents that 
would have astonished a Chinaman who had read the 
story without prepossession. Even sceptics who were 
specially on their guard, put the Bible in the dock, and 
read the gospels with the object of detecting discrep- 
ancies in the four narratives to shew that the writers 
were as subject to error as the writers of yesterday's 

All this has changed greatly within two generations. 
Today the Bible is so little read that the language of the 
Authorized Version is rapidly becoming obsolete; so that 
even in the United States, where the old tradition of the 
verbal infallibility of "the book of books" lingers more 
strongly than anywhere else except perhaps in Ulster, 
retranslations into modern English have been introduced 
perforce to save its bare intelligibility. It is quite easy 
today to find cultivated persons who have never read the 
New Testament, and on whom therefore it is possible to 
try the experiment of asking them to read the gospels 
and state what they have gathered as to the history and 
views and character of Christ. 

The Gospels now unintelligible to Novices. 

But it will not do to read the gospels with a mind 
furnished only for the reception of, say, a biography of 
Goethe. You will not make sense of them, nor even be 
able without impatient weariness to persevere in the task 
of going steadily through them, unless you know some- 
thing of the history of the human imagination as applied 
to religion. Not long ago I asked a writer of dis- 
tinguished intellectual competence whether he had made a 
study of the gospels since his childhood. His reply was 
that he had lately tried, but "found it all such nonsense 
that I could not stick it." As I do not want to send any- 
one to the gospels with this result, I had better here give 

Preface xxi 

a brief exposition of how much of the history of religion 
is needed to make the gospels and the conduct and ulti- 
mate fate of Jesus intelligible and interesting. 

Worldliness of the Majority. 

The first common mistake to get rid of is that man- 
kind consists of a great mass of religious people and a 
few eccentric atheists. It consists of a huge mass of 
worldly people, and a small percentage of persons deep- 
ly interested in religion and concerned about their own 
souls and other peoples' ; and this section consists mostly 
of those who are passionately affirming the established 
religion and those who are passionately attacking it, the 
genuine philosophers being very few. Thus you never 
have a nation of millions of Wesleys and one Tom Paine. 
You have a million Mr. Worldly Wisemans, one Wesley, 
with his small congregation, and one Tom Paine, with 
his smaller congregation. The passionately religious are 
a people apart; and if they were not hopelessly outnum- 
bered by the worldly, they would turn the world upside 
down, as St. Paul was reproached, quite justly, for 
wanting to do. Few people can number among their 
personal acquaintances a single atheist or a single 
Plymouth Brother. Unless a religious turn in ourselves 
has led us to seek the little Societies to which these rare 
birds belong, we pass our lives among people who, what- 
ever creeds they may repeat, and in whatever temples 
they may avouch their respectability and wear their Sun- 
day clothes, have robust consciences, and hunger and 
thirst, not for righteousness, but for rich feeding and 
comfort and social position and attractive mates and ease 
and pleasure and respect and consideration: in short, for 
love and money. To these people one morality is as 
good as another provided they are used to it and can put 
up with its restrictions without unhappiness; and in the 

xxii Androcles and the Lion 

maintenance of this morality they will fight and punish 
and coerce without scruple. They may not be the salt 
of the earth, these Philistines; but they are the sub- 
stance of civilization ; and they save society from ruin by 
criminals and conquerors as well as by Savonarolas and 
Knipperdollings. And as they know, very sensibly, that 
a little religion is good for children and serves morality, 
keeping the poor in good humor or in awe by promising 
rewards in heaven or threatening torments in hell, they 
encourage the religious people up to a certain point: for 
instance, if Savonarola only tells the ladies of Florence 
that they ought to tear off their jewels and finery and 
sacrifice them to God, they offer him a cardinal's hat, 
and praise him as a saint; but if he induces them to 
actually do it, they burn him as a public nuisance. 

Religion of the Minority. Salvationism. 

The religion of the tolerated religious minority has 
always been essentially the same religion : that is why its 
changes of name and form have made so little difference. 
That is why, also, a nation so civilized as the English 
can convert negroes to their faith with great ease, but 
cannot convert Mahometans or Jews. The negro finds 
in civilized Salvationism an unspeakably more comfort- 
ing version of his crude creed; but neither Saracen nor 
Jew sees any advantage in it over his own version. The 
Crusader was surprised to find the Saracen quite as re- 
ligious and moral as himself, and rather more than less 
civilized. The Latin Christian has nothing to offer the 
Greek Christian that Greek Christianity has not already 
provided. They are all, at root, Salvationists. 

Let us trace this religion of Salvation from its begin- 
nings. So many things that man does not himself con- 
trive or desire are always happening: death, plagues, 
tempests, blights, floods, sunrise and sunset, growths and 

Preface xxiii 

harvests and decay, and Kant's two wonders of the 
starry heavens above us and the moral law within us, 
that we conclude that somebody must be doing it all, or 
that somebody is doing the good and somebody else 
doing the evil, or that armies of invisible persons, benef- 
icent and malevolent, are doing it; hence you postulate 
gods and devils, angels and demons. You propitiate 
these powers with presents, called sacrifices, and flat- 
teries, called praises. Then the Kantian moral law within 
you makes you conceive your god as a judge; and 
straightway you try to corrupt him, also with presents 
and flatteries. This seems shocking to us; but our ob- 
jection to it is quite a recent development: no longer ago 
than Shakespear's time it was thought quite natural that 
litigants should give presents to human judges; and the 
buying off of divine wrath by actual money payments to 
priests, or, in the reformed churches which discounten- 
ance this, by subscriptions to charities and church build- 
ing and the like, is still in full swing. Its practical dis- 
advantage is that though it makes matters very easy for 
the rich, it cuts off the poor from all hope of divine 
favor. And this quickens the moral criticism of the poor 
to such an extent, that they soon find the moral law with- 
in them revolting against the idea of buying off the deity 
with gold and gifts, though they are still quite ready to 
buy him off with the paper money of praise and pro- 
fessions of repentance. Accordingly, you will find that 
though a religion may last unchanged for many cen- 
turies in primitive communities where the conditions of 
life leave no room for poverty and riches, and the process 
of propitiating the supernatural powers is as well within 
the means of the least of the members as within those of 
the headman, yet when commercial civilization arrives, 
and capitalism divides the people into a few rich and a 
great many so poor that they can barely live, a move- 
ment for religious reform will arise among the poor, and 

xxiv Androcles and the Lion 

will be essentially a movement for cheap or entirely 
gratuitous salvation. 

To understand what the poor mean by propitiation, we 
must examine for a moment what they mean by justice. 

The Difference between Atonement and 

The primitive idea of justice is partly legalized re- 
venge and partly expiation by sacrifice. It works out 
from both sides in the notion that two blacks make a 
white, and that when a wrong has been done, it should 
be paid for by an equivalent suffering. It seems to the 
Philistine majority a matter of course that this compen- 
sating suffering should be inflicted on the wrongdoer for 
the sake of its deterrent effect on other would-be wrong- 
doers ; but a moment's reflection will shew that this utili- 
tarian application corrupts the whole transaction. For 
example, the shedding of innocent blood cannot be bal- 
anced by the shedding of guilty blood. Sacrificing a 
criminal to propitiate God for the murder of one of his 
righteous servants is like sacrificing a mangy sheep or 
an ox with the rinderpest: it calls down divine wrath in- 
stead of appeasing it. In doing it we offer God as a sac- 
rifice the gratification of our own revenge and the pro- 
tection of our own lives without cost to ourselves; and 
cost to ourselves is the essence of sacrifice and expiation. 
However much the Philistines have succeeded in confus- 
ing these things in practice, they are to the Salvationist 
sense distinct and even contrary. The Baronet's cousin 
in Dickens's novel, who, perplexed by the failure of the 
police to discover the murderer of the baronet's solicitor, 
said "Far better hang wrong fellow than no fellow," was 
not only expressing a very common sentiment, but trem- 
bling on the brink of the rarer Salvationist opinion that 

Preface xxv 

it is much better to hang the wrong fellow: that, in fact, 
the wrong fellow is the right fellow to hang. 

The point is a cardinal one, because until we grasp it 
not only does historical Christianity remain unintelligible 
to us, but those who do not care a rap about historical 
Christianity may be led into the mistake of supposing 
that if we discard revenge, and treat murderers exactly 
as God treated Cain: that is, exempt them from punish- 
ment by putting a brand on them as unworthy to be sac- 
rificed, and let them face the world as best they can with 
that brand on them, we should get rid both of punish- 
ment and sacrifice. It would not at all follow : on the con- 
trary, the feeling that there must be an expiation of the 
murder might quite possibly lead to our putting some in- 
nocent person — the more innocent the better — to a cruel 
death to balance the account with divine justice. 

Salvation at first a Class Privilege; 
and the Remedy. 

Thus, even when the poor decide that the method of 
purchasing salvation by offering rams and goats or 
bringing gold to the altar must be wrong because they 
cannot afford it, we still do not feel "saved" without a 
sacrifice and a victim. In vain do we try to substitute 
mystical rites that cost nothing, such as circumcision, or, 
as a substitute for that, baptism. Our sense of justice 
still demands an expiation, a sacrifice, a sufferer for our 
sins. And this leaves the poor man still in his old dif- 
ficulty; for if it was impossible for him to procure rams 
and goats and shekels, how much more impossible is it 
for him to find a neighbor who will voluntarily suffer for 
his sins: one who will say cheerfully "You have com- 
mitted a murder. Well, never mind: I am willing to be 
hanged for it in your stead?" 

xxvi Androcles and the Lion 

Our imagination must come to our rescue. Why not, 
instead of driving ourselves to despair by insisting on 
a separate atonement by a separate redeemer for every 
sin, have one great atonement and one great redeemer to 
compound for the sins of the world once for all? Noth- 
ing easier, nothing cheaper. The yoke is easy, the bur- 
den light. All you have to do when the redeemer is once 
found (or invented by the imagination) is to believe in 
the efficacy of the transaction, and you are saved. The 
rams and goats cease to bleed; the altars which ask for 
expensive gifts and continually renewed sacrifices are 
torn down; and the Church of the single redeemer and 
the single atonement rises on the ruins of the old 
temples, and becomes a single Church of the Christ. 

Retrospective Atonement; and the 
Expectation of the Redeemer. 

But this does not happen at once. Between the old 
costly religion of the rich and the new gratuitous religion 
of the poor there comes an interregnum in which the 
redeemer, though conceived by the human imagination, 
is not yet found. He is awaited and expected under 
the names of the Christ, the Messiah, Baldur the Beauti- 
ful, or what not; but he has not yet come. Yet the sin- 
ners are not therefore in despair. It is true that they 
cannot say, as we say, "The Christ has come, and has 
redeemed us;" but they can say "The Christ will come, 
and will redeem us," which, as the atonement is con- 
ceived as retrospective, is equally consoling. There are 
periods when nations are seething with this expectation 
and crying aloud with prophecy of the Redeemer through 
their poets. To feel that atmosphere we have only to 
take up the Bible and read Isaiah at one end of such a 
period and Luke and John at the other. 

Preface xxvii 

Completion of the Scheme by Luther and 

We now see our religion as a quaint but quite intelligi- 
ble evolution from crude attempts to propitiate the de- 
structive forces of Nature among savages to a subtle the- 
ology with a costly ritual of sacrifice possible only to the 
rich as a luxury, and finally to the religion of Luther and 
Calvin. And it must be said for the earlier forms that 
they involved very real sacrifices. The sacrifice was not 
always vicarious, and is not yet universally so. In India 
men pay with their own skins, torturing themselves hide- 
ously to attain holiness. In the west, saints amazed the 
world with their austerities and self-scourgings and con- 
fessions and vigils. But Luther delivered us from all 
that. His reformation was a triumph of imagination 
and a triumph of cheapness. It brought you complete 
salvation and asked you for nothing but faith. Luther 
did not know what he was doing in the scientific socio- 
logical way in which we know it; but his instinct served 
him better than knowledge could have done; for it was 
instinct rather than theological casuistry that made him 
hold so resolutely to Justification by Faith as the trump 
card by which he should beat the Pope, or, as he would 
have put it, the sign in which he should conquer. He 
may be said to have abolished the charge for admission 
to heaven. Paul had advocated this; but Luther and 
Calvin did it. 

John Barleycorn 

There is yet another page in the history of religion 
which must be conned and digested before the career of 
Jesus can be fully understood. People who can read 
long books will find it in Frazer's Golden Bough. Sim- 
pler folk will find it in the peasant's song of John Bar- 

xxviii Androcles and the Lion 

leycorn, now made accessible to our drawingroom 
amateurs in the admirable collections of Somersetshire 
Folk Songs by Mr. Cecil Sharp. From Frazer's mag- 
num opus you will learn how the same primitive logic 
which makes the Englishman believe today that by eating 
a beefsteak he can acquire the strength and courage of 
the bull, and to hold that belief in the face of the most 
ignominious defeats by vegetarian wrestlers and racers 
and bicyclists, led the first men who conceived God as 
capable of incarnation to believe that they could acquire 
a spark of his divinity by eating his flesh and drinking 
his blood. And from the song of John Barleycorn you 
may learn how the miracle of the seed, the growth, and 
the harvest, still the most wonderful of all the miracles 
and as inexplicable as ever, taught the primitive hus- 
bandman, and, as we must now affirm, taught him quite 
rightly, that God is in the seed, and that God is im- 
mortal. And thus it became the test of Godhead that 
nothing that you could do to it could kill it, and that 
when you buried it, it would rise again in renewed life 
and beauty and give mankind eternal life on condition 
that it was eaten and drunk, and again slain and buried, 
to rise again for ever and ever. You may, and indeed 
must, use John Barleycorn "right barbarouslee," cutting 
him "off at knee" with your scythes, scourging him with 
your flails, burying him in the earth; and he will not re- 
sist you nor reproach you, but will rise again in golden 
beauty amidst a great burst of sunshine and bird music, 
and save you and renew your life. And from the inter- 
weaving of these two traditions with the craving for the 
Redeemer, you at last get the conviction that when the 
Redeemer comes he will be immortal; he will give us his 
body to eat and his blood to drink ; and he will prove his 
divinity by suffering a barbarous death without resist- 
ance or reproach, and rise from the dead and return to 
the earth in glory as the giver of life eternal. 

Preface xxix 

Looking for the End of the World. 

Yet another persistent belief has beset the imagina- 
tion of the religious ever since religion spread among 
the poor, or, rather, ever since commercial civilization 
produced a hopelessly poor class cut off from enjoyment 
in this world. That belief is that the end of this world 
is at hand, and that it will presently pass away and be 
replaced by a kingdom of happiness, justice, and bliss 
in which the rich and the oppressors and the unjust shall 
have no share. We are all familiar with this expecta- 
tion: many of us cherish some pious relative who sees 
in every great calamity a sign of the approaching end. 
Warning pamphlets are in constant circulation: adver- 
tisements are put in the papers and paid for by those 
who are convinced, and who are horrified at the indiffer- 
ence of the irreligious to the approaching doom. And 
revivalist preachers, now as in the days of John the 
Baptist, seldom fail to warn their flocks to watch and 
pray, as the great day will steal upon them like a thief 
in the night, and cannot be long deferred in a world so 
wicked. This belief also associates itself with Barley- 
corn's second coming; so that the two events become 
identified at last. 

There is the other and more artificial side of this be- 
lief, on which it is an inculcated dread. The ruler who 
appeals to the prospect of heaven to console the poor and 
keep them from insurrection also curbs the vicious by 
threatening them with hell. In the Koran we find Ma- 
homet driven more and more to this expedient of govern- 
ment; and experience confirms his evident belief that it 
is impossible to govern without it in certain phases of 
civilization. We shall see later on that it gives a power- 
ful attraction to the belief in a Redeemer, since it adds 
to remorse of conscience, which hardened men bear very 
lightly, a definite dread of hideous and eternal torture. 

xxx Androcles and the Lion 

The Honor of Divine Parentage. 

One more tradition must be noted. The consummation 
of praise for a king- is to declare that he is the son of no 
earthly father, but of a god. His mother goes into the 
temple of Apollo, and Apollo comes to her in the shape 
of a serpent, or the like. The Roman emperors, follow- 
ing the example of Augustus, claimed the title of God. 
Illogically, such divine kings insist a good deal on their 
royal human ancestors. Alexander, claiming to be the 
son of Apollo, is equally determined to be the son of 
Philip. As the gospels stand, St. Matthew and St. Luke 
give genealogies (the two are different) establishing 
the descent of Jesus through Joseph from the royal 
house of David, and yet declare that not Joseph but the 
Holy Ghost was the father of Jesus. It is therefore now 
held that the story of the Holy Ghost is a later inter- 
polation borrowed from the Greek and Roman imperial 
tradition. But experience shews that simultaneous faith 
in the descent from David and the conception by the 
Holy Ghost is possible. Such double beliefs are enter- 
tained by the human mind without uneasiness or con- 
sciousness of the contradiction involved. Many instances 
might be given: a familiar one to my generation being 
that of the Tichborne claimant, whose attempt to pass 
himself off as a baronet was supported by an association 
of laborers on the ground that the Tichborne family, in 
resisting it, were trying to do a laborer out of his rights. 
It is quite possible that Matthew and Luke may have 
been unconscious of the contradiction: indeed the inter- 
polation theory does not remove the difficulty, as the in- 
terpolators themselves must have been unconscious of it. 
A better ground for suspecting interpolation is that St. 
Paul knew nothing of the divine birth, and taught that 
Jesus came into the world at his birth as the son of 
Joseph, but rose from the dead after three days as the 

Preface xxxi 

son of God. Here again, few notice the discrepancy: 
the three views are accepted simultaneously without in- 
tellectual discomfort. We can provisionally entertain 
half a dozen contradictory versions of an event if we 
feel either that it does not greatly matter, or that there 
is a category attainable in which the contradictions are 

But that is not the present point. All that need be 
noted here is that the legend of divine birth was sure to 
be attached sooner or later to very eminent persons in 
Roman imperial times, and that modern theologians, far 
from discrediting it, have very logically affirmed the 
miraculous conception not only of Jesus but of his 

With no more scholarly equipment than a knowledge of 
these habits of the human imagination, anyone may now 
read the four gospels without bewilderment, and with- 
out the contemptuous incredulity which spoils the tem- 
per of many modern atheists, or the senseless credulity 
which sometimes makes pious people force us to shove 
them aside in emergencies as impracticable lunatics when 
they ask us to meet violence and injustice with dumb 
submission in the belief that the strange demeanor of 
Jesus before Pilate was meant as an example of normal 
human conduct. Let us admit that without the proper 
clues the gospels are, to a modern educated person, non- 
sensical and incredible, whilst the apostles are unread- 
able. But with the clues, they are fairly plain sailing. 
Jesus becomes an intelligible and consistent person. His 
reasons for going "like a lamb to the slaughter" instead 
of saving himself as Mahomet did, become quite clear. 
The narrative becomes as credible as any other historical 
narrative of its period. 

xxxii Androcles and the Lion 


The Annunciation: the Massacre: 
the Flight. 

Let us begin with the gospel of Matthew, bearing in 
mind that it does not profess to be the evidence of an eye- 
witness. It is a chronicle, founded, like other chronicles, 
on such evidence and records as the chronicler could get 
hold of. The only one of the evangelists who professes 
to give first-hand evidence as an eyewitness naturally 
takes care to say so ; and the fact that Matthew makes no 
such pretension, and writes throughout as a chronicler, 
makes it clear that he is telling the story of Jesus as 
Holinshed told the story of Macbeth, except that, for a 
reason to be given later on, he must have collected his 
material and completed his book within the lifetime of 
persons contemporary with Jesus. Allowance must also 
be made for the fact that the gospel is written in the 
Greek language, whilst the first-hand traditions and the 
actual utterances of Jesus must have been in Aramaic, 
the dialect of Palestine. These distinctions were im- 
portant, as you will find if you read Holinshed or Frois- 
sart and then read Benvenuto Cellini. You do not blame 
Holinshed or Froissart for believing and repeating the 
things they had read or been told, though you cannot 
always believe these things yourself. But when Cellini 
tells you that he saw this or did that, and you find it 
impossible to believe him, you lose patience with him, 
and are disposed to doubt everything in his autobiog- 
raphy. Do not forget, then, that Matthew is Holinshed 
and not Benvenuto. The very first pages of his narra- 
tive will put your attitude to the test. 

Matthew tells us that the mother of Jesus was be- 
trothed to a man of royal pedigree named Joseph, who 
was rich enough to live in a house in Bethlehem to which 

Preface xxxiii 

kings could bring gifts of gold without provoking any 
comment. An angel announces to Joseph that Jesus is 
the son of the Holy Ghost, and that he must not accuse 
her of infidelity because of her bearing a son of which 
he is not the father; but this episode disappears from 
the subsequent narrative: there is no record of its hav- 
ing been told to Jesus, nor any indication of his having 
any knowledge of it. The narrative, in fact, proceeds in 
all respects as if the annunciation formed no part of it. 
Herod the Tetrarch, believing that a child has been 
born who will destroy him, orders all the male children 
to be slaughtered; and Jesus escapes by the flight of his 
parents into Egypt, whence they return to Nazareth 
when the danger is over. Here it is necessary to antici- 
pate a little by saying that none of the other evangelists 
accept this story, as none of them except John, who 
throws over Matthew altogether, shares his craze for 
treating history and biography as mere records of the 
fulfillment of ancient Jewish prophecies. This craze 
no doubt led him to seek for some legend bearing out 
Hosea's "Out of Egypt have I called my son," and 
Jeremiah's Rachel weeping for her children: in fact, he 
says so. Nothing that interests us nowadays turns on 
the credibility of the massacre of the innocents and the 
flight into Egypt. We may forget them, and proceed to 
the important part of the narrative, which skips at once 
to the manhood of Jesus. 

John the Baptist. 

At this moment, a Salvationist prophet named John is 
stirring the people very strongly. John has declared 
that the rite of circumcision is insufficient as a dedication 
of the individual to God, and has substituted the rite of 
baptism. To us, who are accustomed to baptism as a 
matter of course, and to whom circumcision is a rather 

xxxiv Androcles and the Lion 

ridiculous foreign practice of no consequence, the sensa- 
tional effect of such a heresy as this on the Jews is not 
apparent: it seems to us as natural that John should 
have baptized people as that the rector of our village 
should do so. But, as St. Paul found to his cost later on, 
the discarding of circumcision for baptism was to the 
Jews as startling a heresy as the discarding of transub- 
stantiation in the Mass was to the Catholics of the XVI 

Jesus joins the Baptists. 

Jesus entered as a man of thirty (Luke says) into the 
religious life of his time by going to John the Baptist 
and demanding baptism from him, much as certain well- 
to-do young gentlemen forty years ago "joined the 
Socialists." As far as established Jewry was concerned, 
he burnt his boats by this action, and cut himself off 
from the routine of wealth, respectability, and orthodoxy. 
He then began preaching John's gospel, which, apart 
from the heresy of baptism, the value of which lay in its 
bringing the Gentiles (that is, the uncircumcized) within 
the pale of salvation, was a call to the people to repent 
of their sins, as the kingdom of heaven was at hand. 
Luke adds that he also preached the communism of 
charity; told the surveyors of taxes not to over-assess 
the taxpayers; and advised soldiers to be content with 
their wages and not to be violent or lay false accusations. 
There is no record of John going beyond this. 

The Savage John and the Civilized 

Jesus went beyond it very rapidly, according to Mat- 
thew. Though, like John, he became <an itinerant 
preacher, he departed widely from John's manner of life. 

Preface xxxv 

John went into the wilderness, not into the synagogues; 
and his baptismal font was the river Jordan. He was an 
ascetic, clothed in skins and living on locusts and wild 
honey, practising a savage austerity. He courted mar- 
tyrdom, and met it at the hands of Herod. Jesus saw no 
merit either in asceticism or martyrdom. In contrast to 
John he was essentially a highly-civilized, cultivated 
person. According to Luke, he pointed out the contrast 
himself, chaffing the Jews for complaining that John 
must be possessed by the devil because he was a tee- 
totaller and vegetarian, whilst, because Jesus was neither 
one nor the other, they reviled him as a gluttonous man 
and a winebibber, the friend of the officials and their 
mistresses. He told straitlaced disciples that they would 
have trouble enough from other people without making 
any for themselves, and that they should avoid martyr- 
dom and enjoy themselves whilst they had the chance. 
"When they persecute you in this city," he says, "flee 
into the next." He preaches in the synagogues and in 
the open air indifferently, just as they come. He re- 
peatedly says, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice," mean- 
ing evidently to clear himself of the inveterate supersti- 
tion that suffering is gratifying to God. "Be not, as the 
Pharisees, of a sad countenance," he says. He is con- 
vivial, feasting with Roman officials and sinners. He is 
careless of his person, and is remonstrated with for not 
washing his hands before sitting down to table. The 
followers of John the Baptist, who fast, and who expect 
to find the Christians greater ascetics than themselves, 
are disappointed at finding that Jesus and his twelve 
friends do not fast ; and Jesus tells them that they should 
rejoice in him instead of being melancholy. He is jocu- 
lar and tells them they will all have as much fasting as 
they want soon enough, whether they like it or not. He 
is not afraid of disease, and dines with a leper. A 
woman, apparently to protect him against infection, 

xxxvi Androcles and the Lion 

pours a costly unguent on his head, and is rebuked be- 
cause what it cost might have been given to the poor. He 
poohpoohs that lowspirited view, and says, as he said 
when he was reproached for not fasting, that the poor 
are always there to be helped, but that he is not there to 
be anointed always, implying that you should never lose 
a chance of being happy when there is so much misery 
in the world. He breaks the Sabbath; is impatient of 
conventionality when it is uncomfortable or obstructive; 
and outrages the feelings of the Jews by breaches of it. 
He is apt to accuse people who feel that way of hypoc- 
risy. Like the late Samuel Butler, he regards disease 
as a department of sin, and on curing a lame man, says 
"Thy sins are forgiven" instead of "Arise and walk," 
subsequently maintaining, when the Scribes reproach 
him for assuming power to forgive sin as well as to cure 
disease, that the two come to the same thing. He has no 
modest affectations, and claims to be greater than Solo- 
mon or Jonah. When reproached, as Bunyan was, for 
resorting to the art of fiction when teaching in parables, 
he justifies himself on the ground that art is the only 
way in which the people can be taught. He is, in short, 
what we should call an artist and a Bohemian in his 
manner of life. 

Jesus not a Proselytist. 

A point of considerable practical importance today is 
that he expressly repudiates the idea that forms of re- 
ligion, once rooted, can be weeded out and replanted with 
the flowers of a foreign faith. "If you try to root up 
the tares you will root up the wheat as well." Our 
proselytizing missionary enterprises are thus flatly con- 
trary to his advice; and their results appear to bear him 
out in his view that if you convert a man brought up in 
another creed, you inevitably demoralize him. He acts 

Preface xxxvii 

on this view himself, and does not convert his disciples 
from Judaism to Christianity. To this day a Christian 
would be in religion a Jew initiated by baptism instead 
of circumcision, and accepting Jesus as the Messiah, 
and his teachings as of higher authority than those of 
Moses, but for the action of the Jewish priests, who, to 
save Jewry from being submerged in the rising flood of 
Christianity after the capture of Jerusalem and the de- 
struction of the Temple, set up what was practically a 
new religious order, with new Scriptures and elaborate 
new observances, and to their list of the accursed added 
one Jeschu, a bastard magician, whose comic rogueries 
brought him to a bad end like Punch or Til Eulen- 
spiegel: an invention which cost them dear when the 
Christians got the upper hand of them politically. The 
Jew as Jesus, himself a Jew, knew him, never dreamt of 
such things, and could follow Jesus without ceasing to 
be a Jew. 

The Teachings of Jesus. 

So much for his personal life and temperament. His 
public career as a popular preacher carries him equally 
far beyond John the Baptist. He lays no stress on 
baptism or vows, and preaches conduct incessantly. He 
advocates communism, the widening of the private family 
with its cramping ties into the great family of mankind 
under the fatherhood of God, the abandonment of re- 
venge and punishment, the counteracting of evil by good 
instead of by a hostile evil, and an organic conception 
of society in which you are not an independent individual 
but a member of society, your neighbor being another 
member, and each of you members one of another, as two 
fingers on a hand, the obvious conclusion being that un- 
less you love your neighbor as yourself and he recipro- 
cates you will both be the worse for it. He conveys all 

xxxviii Androcles and the Lion 

this with extraordinary charm, and entertains his hearers 
with fables (parables) to illustrate them. He has no 
synagogue or regular congregation, but travels from 
place to place with twelve men whom he has called from 
their work as he passed, and who have abandoned it to 
follow him. 

The Miracles. 

He has certain abnormal powers by which he can per- 
form miracles. He is ashamed of these powers, but, 
being extremely compassionate, cannot refuse to exercise 
them when afflicted people beg him to cure them, when 
multitudes of people are hungry, and when his disciples 
are terrified by storms on the lakes. He asks for no 
reward, but begs the people not to mention these powers 
of his. There are two obvious reasons for his dislike of 
being known as a worker of miracles. One is the natural 
objection of all men who possess such powers, but have 
far more important business in the world than to exhibit 
them, to be regarded primarily as charlatans, besides 
being pestered to give exhibitions to satisfy curiosity. 
The other is that his view of the effect of miracles upon 
his mission is exactly that taken later on by Rousseau. 
He perceives that they will discredit him and divert at- 
tention from his doctrine by raising an entirely irrele- 
vant issue between his disciples and his opponents. 

Possibly my readers may not have studied Rousseau's 
Letters Written From The Mountain, which may be re- 
garded as the classic work on miracles as credentials of 
divine mission. Rousseau shews, as Jesus foresaw, that 
the miracles are the main obstacle to the acceptance of 
Christianity, because their incredibility (if they were not 
incredible they would not be miracles) makes people 
sceptical as to the whole narrative, credible enough in 
the main, in which they occur, and suspicious of the doc- 

Preface xxxix 

trine with which they are thus associated. "Get rid of 
the miracles/' said Rousseau, "and the whole world will 
fall at the feet of Jesus Christ/' He points out that 
miracles offered as evidence of divinity, and failing to 
convince, make divinity ridiculous. He says, in effect, 
there is nothing in making a lame man walk: thousands 
of lame men have been cured and have walked without 
any miracle. Bring me a man with only one leg and 
make another grow instantaneously on him before my 
eyes; and I will be really impressed; but mere cures of 
ailments that have often been cured before are quite use- 
less as evidence of anything else than desire to help and 
power to cure. 

Jesus, according to Matthew, agreed so entirely with 
Rousseau, and felt the danger so strongly, that when 
people who were not ill or in trouble came to him and 
asked him to exercise his powers as a sign of his mission, 
he was irritated beyond measure, and refused with an 
indignation which they, not seeing Rousseau's point, 
must have thought very unreasonable. To be called "an 
evil and adulterous generation" merely for asking a 
miracle worker to give an exhibition of his powers, is 
rather a startling experience. Mahomet, by the way, 
also lost his temper when people asked him to perform 
miracles. But Mahomet expressly disclaimed any un- 
usual powers; whereas it is clear from Matthew's story 
that Jesus (unfortunately for himself, as he thought) 
had some powers of healing. It is also obvious that the 
exercise of such powers would give rise to wild tales of 
magical feats which would expose their hero to condem- 
nation as an impostor among people whose good opinion 
was of great consequence to the movement started by his 

But the deepest annoyance arising from the miracles 
would be the irrelevance of the issue raised by them. 
Jesus's teaching has nothing to do with miracles. If his 

xl Androcles and the Lion 

mission had been simply to demonstrate a new method of 
restoring lost eyesight, the miracle of curing the blind 
would have been entirely relevant. But to say "You 
should love your enemies; and to convince you of this I 
will now proceed to cure this gentleman of cataract" 
would have been, to a man of Jesus's intelligence, the 
proposition of an idiot. If it could be proved today that 
not one of the miracles of Jesus actually occurred, that 
proof would not invalidate a single one of his didactic 
utterances ; and conversely, if it could be proved that not 
only did the miracles actually occur, but that he had 
wrought a thousand other miracles a thousand times 
more wonderful, not a jot of weight would be added to 
his doctrine. And yet the intellectual energy of sceptics 
and divines has been wasted for generations in arguing 
about the miracles on the assumption that Christianity is 
at stake in the controversy as to whether the stories of 
Matthew are false or true. According to Matthew him- 
self, Jesus must have known this only too well; for 
wherever he went he was assailed with a clamor for 
miracles, though his doctrine created bewilderment. 

So much for the miracles! Matthew tells us further, 
that Jesus declared that his doctrines would be attacked 
by Church and State, and that the common multitude 
were the salt of the earth and the light of the world. 
His disciples, in their relations with the political and 
ecclesiastical organizations, would be as sheep among 

Matthew imputes Bigotry to Jesus. 

Matthew, like most biographers, strives to identify the 
opinions and prejudices of his hero with his own. Al- 
though he describes Jesus as tolerant even to careless- 
ness, he draws the line at the Gentile, and represents 
Jesus as a bigoted Jew who regards his mission as ad- 

Preface xli 

dressed exclusively to "the lost sheep of the house of 
Israel." When a woman of Canaan begged Jesus to 
cure her daughter, he first refused to speak to her, and 
then told her brutally that "It is not meet to take the 
children's bread and cast it to the dogs." But when the 
woman said, "Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the 
crumbs which fall from their master's table," she melted 
the Jew out of him and made Christ a Christian. To the 
woman whom he had just called a dog he said, "O 
woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou 
wilt." This is somehow one of the most touching stories 
in the gospel; perhaps because the woman rebukes the 
prophet by a touch of his own finest quality. It is cer- 
tainly out of character; but as the sins of good men are 
always out of character, it is not safe to reject the story 
as invented in the interest of Matthew's determination 
that Jesus shall have nothing to do with the Gentiles. 
At all events, there the story is; and it is by no means 
the only instance in which Matthew reports Jesus, in 
spite of the charm of his preaching, as extremely uncivil 
in private intercourse. 

The Great Change. 

So far the history is that of a man sane and interest- 
ing apart from his special gifts as orator, healer, and 
prophet. But a startling change occurs. One day, after 
the disciples have discouraged him for a long time by 
their misunderstanings of his mission, and their specu- 
lations as to whether he is one of the old prophets come 
again, and if so, which, his disciple Peter suddenly solves 
the problem by exclaiming, "Thou are the Christ, the son 
of the living God." At this Jesus is extraordinarily 
pleased and excited. He declares that Peter has had a 
revelation straight from God. He makes a pun on 

xlii Androcles and the Lion 

Peter's name, and declares him the founder of his 
Church. And he accepts his destiny as a god by an- 
nouncing that he will be killed when he goes to Jeru- 
salem; for if he is really the Christ, it is a necessary 
part of his legendary destiny that he shall be slain. 
Peter, not understanding this, rebukes him for what 
seems mere craven melancholy; and Jesus turns fiercely 
on him and cries, "Get thee behind me, Satan." 

Jesus now becomes obsessed with a conviction of his 
divinity, and talks about it continually to his disciples, 
though he forbids them to mention it to others. They 
begin to dispute among themselves as to the position they 
shall occupy in heaven when his kingdom is established. 
He rebukes them strenuously for this, and repeats his 
teaching that greatness means service and not domina- 
tion; but he himself, always instinctively somewhat 
haughty, now becomes arrogant, dictatorial, and even 
abusive, never replying to his critics without an insulting 
epithet, and even cursing a fig-tree which disappoints 
him when he goes to it for fruit. He assumes all the tra- 
ditions of the folk-lore gods, and announces that, like 
John Barleycorn, he will be barbarously slain and 
buried, but will rise from the earth and return to life. 
He attaches to himself the immemorial tribal ceremony 
of eating the god, by blessing bread and wine and hand- 
ing them to his disciples with the words "This is my 
body: this is my blood." He forgets his own teaching 
and threatens eternal fire and eternal punishment. He 
announces, in addition to his Barleycorn resurrection, 
that he will come to the world a second time in glory 
and establish his kingdom on earth. He fears that this 
may lead to the appearance of impostors claiming to be 
himself, and declares explicitly and repeatedly that no 
matter what wonders these impostors may perform, his 
own coming will be unmistakable, as the stars will fall 
from heaven, and trumpets be blown by angels. Further 

Preface xliii 

he declares that this will take place during the lifetime 
of persons then present. 

Jerusalem and the Mystical Sacrifice. 

In this new frame of mind he at last enters Jerusalem 
amid great popular curiosity; drives the moneychangers 
and sacrifice sellers out of the temple in a riot; refuses 
to interest himself in the beauties and wonders of the 
temple building on the ground that presently not a stone 
of it shall be left on another; reviles the high priests 
and elders in intolerable terms; and is arrested by night 
in a garden to avoid a popular disturbance. He makes 
no resistance, being persuaded that it is part of his 
destiny as a god to be murdered and to rise again. One 
of his followers shews fight, and cuts off the ear of one 
of his captors. Jesus rebukes him, but does not attempt 
to heal the wound, though he declares that if he wished 
to resist he could easily summon twelve million angels to 
his aid. He is taken before the high priest and by him 
handed over to the Roman governor, who is puzzled by 
his silent refusal to defend himself in any way, or to con- 
tradict his accusers or their witnesses, Pilate having 
naturally no idea that the prisoner conceives himself as 
going through an inevitable process of torment, death, 
and burial as a prelude to resurrection. Before the high 
priest he has also been silent except that when the priest 
asks him is he the Christ, the Son of God, he replies that 
they shall all see the Son of Man sitting at the right 
hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven. He 
maintains this attitude with frightful fortitude whilst 
they scourge him, mock him, torment him, and finally 
crucify him between two thieves. His prolonged agony 
of thirst and pain on the cross at last breaks his spirit, 
and he dies with a cry of "My God : why hast Thou for- 
saken me?" 

xliv Androcles and the Lion 

Not this Man but Barabbas. 

Meanwhile he has been definitely rejected by the 
people as well as by the priests. Pilate, pitying him, 
and unable to make out exactly what he has done (the 
blasphemy that has horrified the high priest does not 
move the Roman) tries to get him off by reminding the 
people that they have, by custom, the right to have a 
prisoner released at that time, and suggests that he 
should release Jesus. But they insist on his releasing 
a prisoner named Barabbas instead, and on having Jesus 
crucified. Matthew gives no clue to the popularity of 
Barabbas, describing him simply as "a notable prisoner." 
The later gospels make it clear, very significantly, that 
his offence was sedition and insurrection; that he was 
an advocate of physical force; and that he had killed 
his man. The choice of Barabbas thus appears as a 
popular choice of the militant advocate of physical force 
as against the unresisting advocate of mercy. 

The Resurrection. 

Matthew then tells how after three days an angel 
opened the family vault of one Joseph, a rich man of 
Arimathea, who had buried Jesus in it, whereupon Jesus 
rose and returned from Jerusalem to Galilee and re- 
sumed his preaching with his disciples, assuring them 
that he would now be with them to the end of the world. 

At that point the narrative abruptly stops. The story 
has no ending. 

Date of Matthew's Narrative. 

One effect of the promise of Jesus to come again in 
glory during the lifetime of some of his hearers is to 

Preface xlv 

date the gospel without the aid of any scholarship. It 
must have been written during the lifetime of Jesus's 
contemporaries: that is, whilst it was still possible for 
the promise of his Second Coming to be fulfilled. The 
death of the last person who had been alive when Jesus 
said "There be some of them that stand here that shall 
in no wise taste death till they see the Son of Man coming 
in his kingdom" destroyed the last possibility of the 
promised Second Coming, and bore out the incredulity 
of Pilate and the Jews. And as Matthew writes as one 
believing in that Second Coming, and in fact left his 
story unfinished to be ended by it, he must have pro- 
duced his gospel within a lifetime of the crucifixion. 
Also, he must have believed that reading books would 
be one of the pleasures of the kingdom of heaven on 

Class Type of Matthew's Jesus. 

One more circumstance must be noted as gathered 
from Matthew. Though he begins his story in such a 
way as to suggest that Jesus belonged to the privileged 
classes, he mentions later on that when Jesus attempted 
to preach in his own country, and had no success there, 
the people said, "Is not this the carpenter's son?" But 
Jesus's manner throughout is that of an aristocrat, or at 
the very least the son of a rich bourgeois, and by no 
means a lowly-minded one at that. We must be careful 
therefore to conceive Joseph, not as a modern prole- 
tarian carpenter working for weekly wages, but as a 
master craftsman of royal descent. John the Baptist 
may have been a Keir Hardie ; but the Jesus of Matthew 
is of the Ruskin-Morris class. 

This haughty characterization is so marked that if we 
had no other documents concerning Jesus than the gospel 
of Matthew, we should not feel as we do about him. 

xlvi Androcles and the Lion 

We should have been much less loth to say, "There is 
a man here who was sane until Peter hailed him as the 
Christ, and who then became a monomaniac." We 
should have pointed out that his delusion is a very com- 
mon delusion among the insane, and that such insanity 
is quite consistent with the retention of the argumenta- 
tive cunning and penetration which Jesus displayed in 
Jerusalem after his delusion had taken complete hold of 
him. We should feel horrified at the scourging and 
mocking and crucifixion just as we should if Ruskin had 
been treated in that way when he also went mad, instead 
of being cared for as an invalid. And we should have 
had no clear perception of any special significance in his 
way of calling the Son of God the Son of Man. We 
should have noticed that he was a Communist; that he 
regarded much of what we call law and order as ma- 
chinery for robbing the poor under legal forms ; that he 
thought domestic ties a snare for the soul ; that he agreed 
with the proverb "The nearer the Church, the farther 
from God;" that he saw very plainly that the masters 
of the community should be its servants and not its op- 
pressors and parasites; and that though he did not tell 
us not to fight our enemies, he did tell us to love them, 
and warned us that they who draw the sword shall perish 
by the sword. All this shews a great power of seeing 
through vulgar illusions, and a capacity for a higher 
morality than has yet been established in any civilized 
community; but it does not place Jesus above Confucius 
or Plato, not to mention more modern philosophers and 


The Women Disciples and the Ascension. 

Let us see whether we can get anything more out of 
Mark, whose gospel, by the way, is supposed to be older 

Preface xlvii 

than Matthew's. Mark is brief; and it does not take 
long to discover that he adds nothing to Matthew except 
the ending of the story by Christ's ascension into heaven, 
and the news that many women had come with Jesus to 
Jerusalem, including Mary Magdalene, out of whom he 
had cast seven devils. On the other hand Mark says 
nothing about the birth of Jesus, and does not touch his 
career until his adult baptism by John. He apparently 
regards Jesus as a native of Nazareth, as John does, 
and not of Bethlehem, as Matthew and Luke do, Beth- 
lehem being the city of David, from whom Jesus is said 
by Matthew and Luke to be descended. He describes 
John's doctrine as "Baptism of repentance unto remis- 
sion of sins": that is, a form of Salvationism. He tells 
us that Jesus went into the synagogues and taught, not 
as the Scribes but as one having authority: that is, we 
infer, he preaches his own doctrine as an original moral- 
ist instead of repeating what the books say. He de- 
scribes the miracle of Jesus reaching the boat by walk- 
ing across the sea, but says nothing about Peter trying 
to do the same. Mark sees what he relates more vividly 
than Matthew, and gives touches of detail that bring 
the event more clearly before the reader. He says, for 
instance, that when Jesus walked on the waves to the 
boat, he was passing it by when the disciples called out to 
him. He seems to feel that Jesus's treatment of the 
woman of Canaan requires some apology, and therefore 
says that she was a Greek of Syrophenician race, which 
probably excused any incivility to her in Mark's eyes. 
He represents the father of the boy whom Jesus cured 
of epilepsy after the transfiguration as a sceptic who 
says "Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief." He 
tells the story of the widow's mite, omitted by Matthew. 
He explains that Bar abbas was "lying bound with them 
that made insurrection, men who in the insurrection had 
committed murder." Joseph of Arimathea, who buried 

xlviii Androcles and the Lion 

Jesus in his own tomb, and who is described by Matthew 
as a disciple, is described by Mark as "one who also 
himself was looking for the kingdom of God," which 
suggests that he was an independent seeker. Mark earns 
our gratitude by making no mention of the old proph- 
ecies, and thereby not only saves time, but avoids the 
absurd implication that* Christ was merely going through 
a predetermined ritual, like the works of a clock, instead 
of living. Finally Mark reports Christ as saying, after 
his resurrection, that those who believe in him will be 
saved and those who do not, damned; but it is impossible 
to discover whether he means anything by a state of 
damnation beyond a state of error. The paleographers 
regard this passage as tacked on by a later scribe. 

On the whole Mark leaves the modern reader where 
Matthew left him. 


Luke the Literary Artist. 

When we come to Luke, we come to a later story- 
teller, and one with a stronger natural gift for his art. 
Before you have read twenty lines of Luke's gospel you 
are aware that you have passed from the chronicler writ- 
ing for the sake of recording important facts, to the 
artist, telling the story for the sake of telling it. At the 
very outset he achieves the most charming idyll in the 
Bible: the story of Mary crowded out of the inn into the 
stable and laying her newly-born son in the manger, and 
of the shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over 
their flocks by night, and how the angel of the Lord 
came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around 
them, and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude 
of the heavenly host. These shepherds go to the stable 
and take the place of the kings in Matthew's chronicle. 

Preface xlix 

So completely has this story conquered and fascinated our 
imagination that most of us suppose all the gospels to 
contain it; but it is Luke's story and his alone: none of 
the others have the smallest hint of it. 

The Charm of Luke's Narrative. 

Luke gives the charm of sentimental romance to every 
incident. The Annunciation, as described by Matthew, 
is made to Joseph, and is simply a warning to him not 
to divorce his wife for misconduct. In Luke's gospel it 
is made to Mary herself, at much greater length, with a 
sense of the ecstasy of the bride of the Holy Ghost. 
Jesus is refined and softened almost out of recognition: 
the stern peremptory disciple of John the Baptist, who 
never addresses a Pharisee or a Scribe without an in- 
sulting epithet, becomes a considerate, gentle, sociable, 
almost urbane person; and the Chauvinist Jew becomes 
a pro-Gentile who is thrown out of the synagogue in his 
own town for reminding the congregation that the 
prophets had sometimes preferred Gentiles to Jews. In 
fact they try to throw him down from a sort of Tarpeian 
rock which they use for executions; but he makes his 
way through them and escapes: the only suggestion of 
a feat of arms on his part in the gospels. There is not 
a word of the Syrophenician woman. At the end he is 
calmly superior to his sufferings; delivers an address 
on his way to execution with unruffled composure; does 
not despair on the cross; and dies with perfect dignity, 
commending his spirit to God, after praying for the for- 
giveness of his persecutors on the ground that "They 
know not what they do." According to Matthew, it is 
part of the bitterness of his death that even the thieves 
who are crucified with him revile him. According to 
Luke, only one of them does this; and he is rebuked by 
the other, who begs Jesus to remember him when he 

1 Androcles and the Lion 

comes into his kingdom. To which Jesus replies, "This 
day shalt thou be with me in Paradise," implying that 
he will spend the three days of his death there. In 
short, every device is used to get rid of the ruthless 
horror of the Matthew chronicle, and to relieve the strain 
of the Passion by touching episodes, and by represent- 
ing Christ as superior to human suffering. It is Luke's 
Jesus who has won our hearts. 

The Touch of Parisian Romance. 

Luke's romantic shrinking from unpleasantness, and 
his sentimentality, are illustrated by his version of the 
woman with the ointment. Matthew and Mark describe 
it as taking place in the house of Simon the Leper, where 
it is objected to as a waste of money. In Luke's version 
the leper becomes a rich Pharisee ; the woman becomes a 
Dame aux Camellias; and nothing is said about money 
and the poor. The woman washes the feet of Jesus with 
her tears and dries them with her hair; and he is re- 
proached for suffering a sinful woman to touch him. It 
is almost an adaptation of the unromantic Matthew to 
the Parisian stage. There is a distinct attempt to in- 
crease the feminine interest all through. The slight lead 
given by Mark is taken up and developed. More is said 
about Jesus's mother and her feelings. Christ's follow- 
ing of women, just mentioned by Mark to account for 
their presence at his tomb, is introduced earlier; and 
some of the women are named; so that we are intro- 
duced to Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and 
Susanna. There is the quaint little domestic episode be- 
tween Mary and Martha. There is the parable of the 
Prodigal Son, appealing to the indulgence romance has 
always shewn to Charles Surface and Des Grieux. 
Women follow Jesus to the cross; and he makes them a 
speech beginning "Daughters of Jerusalem." Slight as 

Preface li 

these changes may seem, they make a great change in 
the atmosphere. The Christ of Matthew could never 
have become what is vulgarly called a woman's hero 
(though the truth is that the popular demand for senti- 
ment, as far as it is not simply human, is more manly 
than womanly) ; but the Christ of Luke has made pos- 
sible those pictures which now hang in many ladies' 
chambers, in which Jesus is represented exactly as he is 
represented in the Lourdes cinematograph, by a hand- 
some actor. The only touch of realism which Luke does 
not instinctively suppress for the sake of producing this 
kind of amenity is the reproach addressed to Jesus for 
sitting down to table without washing his hands; and 
that is retained because an interesting discourse hangs 
on it. 

Waiting for the Messiah. 

Another new feature in Luke's story is that it begins 
in a world in which everyone is expecting the advent 
of the Christ. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus comes into 
a normal Philistine world like our own of today. Not 
until the Baptist foretells that one greater than himself 
shall come after him does the old Jewish hope of a 
Messiah begin to stir again; and as Jesus begins as a 
disciple of John, and is baptized by him, nobody con- 
nects him with that hope until Peter has the sudden in- 
spiration which produces so startling an effect on Jesus. 
But in Luke's gospel men's minds, and especially wom- 
en's minds, are full of eager expectation of a Christ 
not only before the birth of Jesus, but before the birth 
of John the Baptist, the event with which Luke begins 
his story. Whilst Jesus and John are still in their 
mothers' wombs, John leaps at the approach of Jesus 
when the two mothers visit one another. At the circum- 
cision of Jesus pious men and women hail the infant as 
the Christ. 

lii Androcles and the Lion 

The Baptist himself is not convinced; for at quite a 
late period in his former disciple's career he sends two 
young men to ask Jesus is he really the Christ. This is 
noteworthy because Jesus immediately gives them a 
deliberate exhibition of miracles, and bids them tell John 
what they have seen, and ask him what he thinks now. 
This is in complete contradiction to what I have called 
the Rousseau view of miracles as inferred from Matthew. 
Luke shews all a romancer's thoughtlessness about mir- 
acles; he regards them as "signs": that is, as proofs of 
the divinity of the person performing them, and not 
merely of thaumaturgic powers. He revels in miracles 
just as he revels in parables: they make such capital 
stories. He cannot allow the calling of Peter, James, 
and John from their boats to pass without a comic mi- 
raculous overdraft of fishes, with the net sinking the boats 
and provoking Peter to exclaim, "Depart from me; for 
I am a sinful man, O Lord," which should probably be 
translated, "I want no more of your miracles: natural 
fishing is good enough for my boats." 

There are some other novelties in Luke's version. 
Pilate sends Jesus to Herod, who happens to be in 
Jerusalem just then, because Herod had expressed some 
curiosity about him ; but nothing comes of it : the prisoner 
will not speak to him. When Jesus is ill received in a 
Samaritan village James and John propose to call down 
fire from heaven and destroy it; and Jesus replies that 
he is come not to destroy lives but to save them. The 
bias of Jesus against lawyers is emphasized, and also his 
resolution not to admit that he is more bound to his 
relatives than to strangers. He snubs a woman who 
blesses his mother. As this is contrary to the tradi- 
tions of sentimental romance, Luke would presumably 
have avoided it had he not become persuaded that the 
brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God are 
superior even to sentimental considerations. The story 

Preface liii 

of the lawyer asking what are the two chief command- 
ments is changed by making Jesus put the question to 
the lawyer instead of answering it. 

As to doctrine, Luke is only clear when his feelings 
are touched. His logic is weak; for some of the sayings 
of Jesus are pieced together wrongly, as anyone who has 
read them in the right order and context in Matthew 
will discover at once. He does not make anything new 
out of Christ's mission, and, like the other evangelists, 
thinks that the whole point of it is that Jesus was the 
long expected Christ, and that he will presently come 
back to earth and establish his kingdom, having duly 
died and risen again after three days. Yet Luke not 
only records the teaching as to communism and the dis- 
carding of hate, which have, of course, nothing to do 
with the Second Coming, but quotes one very remark- 
able saying which is not compatible with it, which is, 
that people must not go about asking where the king- 
dom of heaven is, and saying "Lo, here!" and "Lo, 
there!" because the kingdom of heaven is within them. 
But Luke has no sense that this belongs to a quite differ- 
ent order of thought to his Christianity, and retains un- 
disturbed his view of the kingdom as a locality as de- 
finite as Jerusalem or Madagascar. 


A New Story and a New Character. 

The gospel of John is a surprise after the others. 
Matthew, Mark and Luke describe the same events in 
the same order (the variations in Luke are negligible), 
and their gospels are therefore called the synoptic gos- 
pels. They tell substantially the same story of a wan- 
dering preacher who at the end of his life came to Jeru- 
salem. John describes a preacher who spent practically 

liv Androcles and the Lion 

his whole adult life in the capital, with occasional visits 
to the provinces. His circumstantial account of the 
calling of Peter and the sons of Zebedee is quite differ- 
ent from the others; and he says nothing about their 
being fishermen. He says expressly that Jesus, though 
baptized by John, did not himself practise baptism, and 
that his disciples did. Christ's agonized appeal against 
his doom in the garden of Gethsemane becomes a cold- 
blooded suggestion made in the temple at a much earlier 
period. Jesus argues much more ; complains a good deal 
of the unreasonableness and dislike with which he is 
met; is by no means silent before Caiaphas and Pilate; 
lays much greater stress on his resurrection and on the 
eating of his body (losing all his disciples except the 
twelve in consequence) ; says many apparently contra- 
dictory and nonsensical things to which no ordinary 
reader can now find any clue; and gives the impression 
of an educated, not to say sophisticated mystic, different 
both in character and schooling from the simple and 
downright preacher of Matthew and Mark, and the ur- 
bane easy-minded charmer of Luke. Indeed, the Jews 
say of him "How knoweth this man letters, having never 
learnt ?" 


John the Immortal Eye Witness. 

John, moreover, claims to be not only a chronicler but 
a witness. He declares that he is "the disciple whom 
Jesus loved," and that he actually leaned on the bosom 
of Jesus at the last supper and asked in a whisper which 
of them it was that should betray him. Jesus whispered 
that he would give a sop to the traitor, and thereupon 
handed one to Judas, who ate it and immediately became 
possessed by the devil. This is more natural than the 
other accounts, in which Jesus openly indicates Judas 
without eliciting any protest or exciting any comment. It 

Preface lv 

also implies that Jesus deliberately bewitched Judas in 
order to bring about his own betrayal. Later on John 
claims that Jesus said to Peter "If I will that John tarry 
til I come, what is that to thee?"; and John, with a 
rather obvious mock modesty, adds that he must not 
claim to be immortal, as the disciples concluded; for 
Christ did not use that expression, but merely remarked 
"If I will that he tarry till I come." No other evangelist 
claims personal intimacy with Christ, or even pretends 
to be his contemporary (there is no ground for identi- 
fying Matthew the publican with Matthew the Evange- 
list) ; and John is the only evangelist whose account of 
Christ's career and character is hopelessly irreconcilable 
with Matthew's. He is almost as bad as Matthew, by 
the way, in his repeated explanations of Christ's actions 
as having no other purpose than to fulfil the old pro- 
phecies. The impression is more unpleasant, because, as 
John, unlike Matthew, is educated, subtle, and obsessed 
with artificial intellectual mystifications, the discovery 
that he is stupid or superficial in so simple a matter 
strikes one with distrust and dislike, in spite of his great 
literary charm, a good example of which is his trans- 
figuration of the harsh episode of the Syrophenician 
woman into the pleasant story of the woman of Samaria. 
This perhaps is why his claim to be John the disciple, or 
to be a contemporary of Christ or even of any survivor 
of Christ's generation, has been disputed, and finally, it 
seems, disallowed. But I repeat, I take no note here of 
the disputes of experts as to the date of the gospels, 
not because I am not acquainted with them, but because, 
as the earliest codices are Greek manuscripts of the 
fourth century a.d v and the Syrian ones are translations 
from the Greek, the paleographic expert has no difficulty 
in arriving at whatever conclusion happens to suit his be- 
liefs or disbeliefs; and he never succeeds in convincing 
the other experts except when they believe or disbelieve 

lvi Androcles and the Lion 

exactly as he does. Hence I conclude that the dates of 
the original narratives cannot be ascertained, and that 
we must make the best of the evangelists' own accounts 
of themselves. There is, as we have seen, a very marked 
difference between them, leaving no doubt that we are 
dealing with four authors of well-marked diversity; but 
they all end in an attitude of expectancy of the Second 
Coming which they agree in declaring Jesus to have posi- 
tively and unequivocally promised within the lifetime of 
his contemporaries. Any believer compiling a gospel 
after the last of these contemporaries had passed away, 
would either reject and omit the tradition of that promise 
on the ground that since it was not fulfilled, and could 
never now be fulfilled, it could not have been made, or 
else have had to confess to the Jews, who were the keen- 
est critics of the Christians, that Jesus was either an 
impostor or the victim of a delusion. Now all the evange- 
lists except Matthew expressly declare themselves to 
be believers; and Matthew's narrative is obviously not 
that of a sceptic. I therefore assume as a matter of 
common sense that, interpolations apart, the gospels are 
derived from narratives written in the first century a.d. 
I include John, because though it may be claimed that 
he hedged his position by claiming that Christ, who 
specially loved him, endowed him with a miraculous life 
until the Second Coming, the conclusion being that John 
is alive at this moment, I cannot believe that a literary 
forger could hope to save the situation by so outrageous 
a pretension. Also, John's narrative is in many passages 
nearer to the realities of public life than the simple 
chronicle of Matthew or the sentimental romance of Luke. 
This may be because John was obviously more a man of 
the world than the others, and knew, as mere chroniclers 
and romancers never know, what actually happens away 
from books and desks. But it may also be because he saw 
and heard what happened instead of collecting traditions 

Preface lvii 

about it. The paleographers and daters of first quota- 
tions may say what they please: John's claim to give 
evidence as an eyewitness whilst the others are only com- 
piling history is supported by a certain verisimilitude 
which appeals to me as one who has preached a new 
doctrine and argued about it, as well as written stories. 
This verisimilitude may be dramatic art backed by 
knowledge of public life; but even at that we must not 
forget that the best dramatic art is the operation of a 
divinatory instinct for truth. Be that as it may, John 
was certainly not the man to believe in the Second Com- 
ing and yet give a date for it after that date had passed. 
There is really no escape from the conclusion that the 
originals of all the gospels date from the period within 
which there was still a possibility of the Second Com- 
ing occurring at the promised time. 

The Peculiar Theology of Jesus. 

In spite of the suspicions roused by John's idiosyn- 
crasies, his narrative is of enormous importance to those 
who go to the gospels for a credible modern religion. 
For it is John who adds to the other records such sayings 
as that "I and my father are one" ; that "God is a spirit" ; 
that the aim of Jesus is not only that the people should 
have life, but that they should have it "more abundantly" 
(a distinction much needed by people who think a man 
is either alive or dead, and never consider the important 
question how much alive he is) ; and that men should 
bear in mind what they were told in the 82nd Psalm: 
that they are gods, and are responsible for the doing of 
the mercy and justice of God. The Jews stoned him 
for saying these things, and, when he remonstrated with 
them for stupidly stoning one who had done nothing to 
them but good works, replied "For a good work ' we 
stone thee not; but for blasphemy, because that thou, be- 

lviii Androcles and the Lion 

ing a man, makest thyself God." He insists (referring 
to the 82nd psalm) that if it is part of their own religion 
that they are gods on the assurance of God himself, it 
cannot be blasphemy for him, whom the Father sanctified 
and sent into the world, to say "I am the son of God." 
But they will not have this at any price; and he has to 
escape from their fury. Here the point is obscured by 
the distinction made by Jesus between himself and other 
men. He says, in effect, "If you are gods, then, a for- 
tiori, I am a god." John makes him say this, just as he 
makes him say "I am the light of the world." But Mat- 
thew makes him say to the people "Ye are the light of 
the world." John has no grip of the significance of 
these scraps which he has picked up: he is far more in- 
terested in a notion of his own that men can escape death 
and do even more extraordinary things than Christ him- 
self: in fact, he actually represents Jesus as promising 
this explicitly, and is finally led into the audacious hint 
that he, John, is himself immortal in the flesh. Still, he 
does not miss the significant sayings altogether. However 
inconsistent they may be with the doctrine he is con- 
sciously driving at, they appeal to some sub-intellectual 
instinct in him that makes him stick them in, like a child 
sticking tinsel stars on the robe of a toy angel. 

John does not mention the ascension; and the end of 
his narrative leaves Christ restored to life, and appear- 
ing from time to time among his disciples. It is on one 
of these occasions that John describes the miraculous 
draught of fishes which Luke places at the other end of 
Christ's career, at the call of the sons of Zebedee. 

John agreed as to the Trial and Crucifixion. 

Although John, following his practice of shewing 
Jesus's skill as a debater, makes him play a less passive 
part at his trial, he still gives substantially the same ac- 

Preface lix 

count of it as all the rest. And the question that would 
occur to any modern reader never occurs to him, any- 
more than it occurred to Matthew, Mark, or Luke. That 
question is, Why on earth did not Jesus defend himself, 
and make the people rescue him from the High Priest? 
(He was so popular that they were unable to prevent him 
driving the money-changers out of the temple, or to 
arrest him for it. When they did arrest him afterwards, 
they had to do it at night in a garden. He could have 
argued with them as he had often done in the temple, 
and justified himself both to the Jewish law and to 
Caesar. And he had physical force at his command 
to back up his arguments: all that was needed was a 
speech to rally his followers; and he was not gagged. 
The reply of the evangelists would have been that all 
these inquiries are idle, because if Jesus had wished to 
escape, he could have saved himself all that trouble by 
doing what John describes him as doing: that is, casting 
his captors to the earth by an exertion of his miraculous 
power. If you asked John why he let them get up again 
and torment and execute him, John would have replied 
that it was part of the destiny of God to be slain and 
buried and to rise again, and that to have avoided this 
destiny would have been to repudiate his Godhead. And 
that is the only apparent explanation. Whether you be- 
lieve with the evangelists that Christ could have rescued 
himself by a miracle, or, as a modern Secularist, point 
out that he could have defended himself effectually, the 
fact remains that according to all the narratives he did 
not. do so. He had to die like a god, not to save him- 
self "like one of the princes." 1 The consensus on this 

1 Jesus himself had refered to that psalm (lxxxii) in which men 
who have judged unjustly and accepted the persons of the wicked 
(including by anticipation practically all the white inhabitants of 
the British Isles and the North American continent, to mention no 
other places) are condemned in the words, "I have said, ye are 
gods; and all of ye are children of the Most High; but ye shall die 
like men, and fall like one of the princes." 

lx Androcles and the Lion 

point is important, because it proves the absolute sincerity 
of Jesus's declaration that he was a god. No impostor 
would have accepted such dreadful consequences without 
an effort to save himself. No impostor would have been 
nerved to endure them by the conviction that he would 
rise from the grave and live again after three days. If 
we accept the story at all, we must believe this, and be- 
lieve also that his promise to return in glory and establish 
his kingdom on earth within the lifetime of men then 
living, was one which he believed that he could, and in- 
deed must fulfil. Two evangelists declare that in his last 
agony he despaired, and reproached God for forsaking 
him. The other two represent him as dying in unshaken 
conviction and charity with the simple remark that the 
ordeal was finished. But all four testify that his faith 
was not deceived, and that he actually rose again after 
three days. And I think it unreasonable to doubt that 
all four wrote their narratives in full faith that the other 
promise would be fulfilled too, and that they themselves 
might live to witness the Second Coming. 

Credibility of the Gospels. 

It will be noted by the older among my readers, who 
are sure to be obsessed more or less by elderly wrangles 
as to whether the gospels are credible as matter-of-fact 
narratives, that I have hardly raised this question, and 
have accepted the credible and incredible with equal com- 
placency. I have done this because credibility is a sub- 
jective condition, as the evolution of religious belief clear- 
ly shews. Belief is not dependent on evidence and rea- 
son. There is as much evidence that the miracles occurred 
as that the battle of Waterloo occurred, or that a large 
body of Russian troops passed through England in 1914 
to take part in the war on the western front. The rea- 

Preface lxi 

sons for believing in the murder of Pompey are the same 
as the reasons for believing in the raising of Lazarus. 
Both have been believed and doubted by men of equal 
intelligence. Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we 
cannot explain, surround us on every hand; life itself is 
the miracle of miracles. Miracles in the sense of events 
that violate the normal course of our experience are 
vouched for every day: the flourishing Church of Christ 
Scientist is founded on a multitude of such miracles. No- 
body believes all the miracles: everybody believes some 
of them. I cannot tell why men who will not believe that 
Jesus ever existed yet believe firmly that Shakespear was 
Bacon. I cannot tell why people who believe that angels 
appeared and fought on our side at the battle of Mons, 
and who believe that miracles occur quite frequently at 
Lourdes, nevertheless boggle at the miracle of the lique- 
faction of the blood of St. Januarius, and reject it as a 
trick of priestcraft. I cannot tell why people who will 
not believe Matthew's story of three kings bringing costly 
gifts to the cradle of Jesus, believe Luke's story of the 
shepherds and the stable. I cannot tell why people, 
brought up to believe the Bible in the old literal way as 
an infallible record and revelation, and rejecting that 
view later on, begin by rejecting the Old Testament, 
and give up the belief in a brimstone hell before they give 
up (if they ever do) the belief in a heaven of harps, 
crowns, and thrones. I cannot tell why people who will 
not believe in baptism on any terms believe in vaccination 
with the cruel fanaticism of inquisitors. I am convinced 
that if a dozen sceptics were to draw up in parallel 
columns a list of the events narrated in the gospels which 
they consider credible and incredible respectively, their 
lists would be different in several particulars. Belief is 
literally a matter of taste. 

lxii Androcles and the Lion 

Fashions of Belief. 

Now matters of taste are mostly also matters of 
fashion. We are conscious of a difference between me- 
dieval fashions in belief and modern fashions. For in- 
stance, though we are more credulous than men were in 
the Middle Ages, and entertain such crowds of fortune- 
tellers, magicians, miracle workers, agents of communi- 
cation with the dead, discoverers of the elixir of life, 
transmuters of metals, and healers of all sorts, as the 
Middle Ages never dreamed of as possible, yet we will 
not take our miracles in the form that convinced the 
Middle Ages. Arithmetical numbers appealed to the 
Middle Ages just as they do to us, because they are 
difficult to deal with, and because the greatest masters 
of numbers, the Newtons and Leibnitzes, rank among 
the greatest men. But there are fashions in numbers too. 
The Middle Ages took a fancy to some familiar number 
like seven; and because it was an odd number, and the 
world was made in seven days, and there are seven stars 
in Charles's Wain, and for a dozen other reasons, they 
were ready to believe anything that had a seven or a 
seven times seven in it. Seven deadly sins, seven swords 
of sorrow in the heart of the Virgin, seven champions of 
Christendom, seemed obvious and reasonable things to 
believe in simply because they were seven. To us, on the 
contrary, the number seven is the stamp of superstition. 
We will believe in nothing less than millions. A medieval 
doctor gained his patient's confidence by telling him that 
his vitals were being devoured by seven worms. Such a 
diagnosis would ruin a modern physician. The modern 
physician tells his patient that he is ill because every drop 
of his blood is swarming with a million microbes ; and the 
patient believes him abjectly and instantly. Had a 
bishop told William the Conqueror that the sun was 
seventy-seven miles distant from the earth, William would 

Preface lxiii 

have believed him not only out of respect for the Church, 
but because he would have felt that seventy-seven miles 
was the proper distance. The Kaiser, knowing just as 
little about it as the Conqueror, would send that bishop 
to an asylum. Yet he (I presume) unhesitatingly ac- 
cepts the estimate of ninety-two and nine-tenths millions 
of miles, or whatever the latest big figure may be. 

Credibility and Truth. 

And here I must remind you that our credulity is not 
to be measured by the truth of the things we believe. 
When men believed that the earth was flat, they were not 
credulous: they were using their common sense, and, if 
asked to prove that the earth was flat, would have said 
simply. "Look at it." Those who refuse to believe that 
it is round are exercising a wholesome scepticism. The 
modern man who believes that the earth is round is 
grossly credulous. Flat Earth men drive him to fury 
by confuting him with the greatest ease when he tries to 
argue about it. Confront him with a theory that the 
earth is cylindrical, or annular, or hour-glass shaped, 
and he is lost. The thing he believes may be true, but 
that is not why he believes it: he believes it because in 
some mysterious way it appeals to his imagination. If 
you ask hiin why he believes that the sun is ninety-odd 
million miles off, either he will have to confess that he 
doesnt know, or he will say that Xewton proved it. But 
he has not read the treatise in which Xewton proved it, 
and does not even know that it was written in Latin. If 
you press an Lister Protestant as to why he regards Xew- 
ton as an infallible authority, and St. Thomas Aquinas 
or the Pope as superstitious liars whom, after his death, 
he will have the pleasure of watching from his place in 
heaven whilst they roast in eternal flame, or if you ask 
me whv I take into serious consideration Colonel Sir 

lxiv Androcles and the Lion 

Almroth Wright's estimates of the number of streptococci 
contained in a given volume of serum whilst I can only 
laugh at the earlier estimates of the number of angels 
that can be accommodated on the point of a needle, no 
reasonable reply is possible except that somehow sevens 
and angels are out of fashion, and billions and streptoc- 
occi are all the rage. I simply cannot tell you why Ba- 
con, Montaigne, and Cervantes had a quite different 
fashion of credulity and incredulity from the Venerable 
Bede and Piers Plowman and the divine doctors of the 
Aquinas- Aristotle school, who were certainly no stupider, 
and had the same facts before them. Still less can I 
explain why, if we assume that these leaders of thought 
had all reasoned out their beliefs, their authority seemed 
conclusive to one generation and blasphemous to another, 
neither generation having followed the reasoning or gone 
into the facts of the matter for itself at all. 

It is therefore idle to begin disputing with the reader 
as to what he should believe in the gospels and what he 
should disbelieve. He will believe what he can, and dis- 
believe what he must. If he draws any lines at all, they 
will be quite arbitrary ones. St. John tells us that when 
Jesus explicitly claimed divine honors by the sacrament 
of his body and blood, so many of his disciples left him 
that their number was reduced to twelve. Many modern 
readers will not hold out so long: they will give in at the 
first miracle. Others will discriminate. They will accept 
the healing miracles, and reject the feeding of the multi- 
tude. To some the walking on the water will be a legen- 
dary exaggeration of a swim, ending in an ordinary res- 
cue of Peter; and the raising of Lazarus will be only a 
similar glorification of a commonplace feat of artificial 
respiration, whilst others will scoff at it as a planned 
imposture in which Lazarus acted as a confederate. Be- 
tween the rejection of the stories as wholly fabulous and 
the acceptance of them as the evangelists themselves 

Preface lxv 

mean them to be accepted, there will be many shades of 
belief and disbelief, of sympathy and derision. It is 
not a question of being a Christian or not. A Mahometan 
Arab will accept literally and without question parts of 
the narrative which an English Archbishop has to reject 
or explain away; and many Theosophists and lovers of 
the wisdom of India, who never enter a Christian Church 
except as sightseers, will revel in parts of John's gospel 
which mean nothing to a pious matter-of-fact Bradford 
manufacturer. Every reader takes from the Bible what 
he can get. In submitting a precis of the gospel narra- 
tives I have not implied any estimate either of their cred- 
ibility or of their truth. I have simply informed him 
or reminded him, as the case may be, of what those nar- 
ratives tell us about their hero. 

Christian Iconolatry and the Peril of the 

I must now abandon this attitude, and make a serious 
draft on the reader's attention by facing the question 
whether, if and when the medieval and Methodist will-to- 
believe the Salvationist and miraculous side of the gospel 
narratives fails us, as it plainly has failed the leaders of 
modern thought, there will be anything left of the mission 
of Jesus: whether, in short, we may not throw the 
gospels into the waste-paper basket, or put them away on 
the fiction shelf of our libraries. I venture to reply that 
we shall be, on the contrary, in the position of the man 
in Bunyan's riddle who found that "the more he threw 
away, the more he had." We get rid, to begin with, of 
the idolatrous or iconographic worship of Christ. By this 
I mean literally that worship which is given to pietures 
and statues of him, and to finished and unalterable stories 
about him. The test of the prevalence of this is that 

lxvi Androcles and the Lion 

if you speak or write of Jesus as a real live person, or 
even as a still active God, such worshippers are more 
horrified than Don Juan was when the statue stepped 
from its pedestal and came to supper with him. You 
may deny the divinity of Jesus; you may doubt whether 
he ever existed ; you may rej ect Christianity for Judaism, 
Mahometanism, Shintoism, or Fire Worship; and the 
iconolaters, placidly contemptuous, will only classify you 
as a freethinker or a heathen. But if you venture to 
wonder how Christ would have looked if he had shaved 
and had his hair cut, or what size in shoes he took, or 
whether he swore when he stood on a nail in the car- 
penter's shop, or could not button his robe when he was 
in a hurry, or whether he laughed over the repartees by 
which he baffled the priests when they tried to trap him 
into sedition and blasphemy, or even if you tell any part 
of his story in the vivid terms of modern colloquial slang, 
you will produce an extraordinary dismay and horror 
among the iconolaters. You will have made the picture 
come out of its frame, the statue descend from its pedes- 
tal, the story become real, with all the incalculable con- 
sequences that may flow from this terrifying miracle. It 
is at such moments that you realize that the iconolaters 
have never for a moment conceived Christ as a real per- 
son who meant what he said, as a fact, as a force like 
electricity, only needing the invention of suitable political 
machinery to be applied to the affairs of mankind with 
revolutionary effect. 

Thus it is not disbelief that is dangerous in our so- 
ciety: it is belief. The moment it strikes you (as it 
may any day) that Christ is not the lifeless harmless 
image he has hitherto been to you, but a rallying centre 
for revolutionary influences which all established States 
and Churches fight, you must look to yourselves ; for you 
have brought the image to life; and the mob may not be 
able to bear that horror. 

Preface lxvii 

The Alternative to Barabbas. 

But mobs must be faced if civilization is to be saved. 
It did not need the present war to shew that neither the 
iconographic Christ nor the Christ of St. Paul has suc- 
ceeded in effecting the salvation of human society. 
Whilst I write, the Turks are said to be massacring the 
Armenian Christians on an unprecedented scale; but 
Europe is not in a position to remonstrate ; for her Chris- 
tians are slaying one another by every device which civil- 
ization has put within their reach as busily as they are 
slaying the Turks. Barabbas is triumphant everywhere; 
and the final use he makes of his triumph is to lead us 
all to suicide with heroic gestures and resounding lies. 
Xow those who, like myself, see the Barabbasque social 
organization as a failure, and are convinced that the Life 
Force (or whatever you choose to call it) cannot be finally 
beaten by any failure, and will even supersede humanity 
by evolving a higher species if we cannot master the prob- 
lems raised by the multiplication of our own numbers, 
have always known that Jesus had a real message, and 
have felt the fascination of his character and doctrine. 
Not that we should nowadays dream of claiming any 
supernatural authority for him, much less the technical 
authority which attaches to an educated modern philos- 
opher and jurist. But when, having entirely got rid of 
Salvationist Christianity, and even contracted a preju- 
dice against Jesus on the score of his involuntary connec- 
tion with it, we engage on a purely scientific study of 
economics, criminology, and biology, and find that our 
practical conclusions are virtually those of Jesus, we 
are distinctly pleased and encouraged to find that we 
were doing him an injustice, and that the nimbus that 
surrounds his head in the pictures may be interpreted 
some day as a light of science rather than a declaration 
of sentiment or a label of idolatry. 

lxviii Androcles and the Lion 

The doctrines in which Jesus is thus confirmed are, 
roughly, the following: 

1. The kingdom of heaven is within you. You are the 
son of God ; and God is the son of man. God is a spirit, 
to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and not an elderly 
gentleman to be bribed and begged from. We are mem- 
bers one of another; so that you cannot injure or help 
your neighbor without injuring or helping yourself. God 
is your father: you are here to do God's work; and you 
and your father are one. 

2. Get rid of property by throwing it into the com- 
mon stock. Dissociate your work entirely from money 
payments. If you let a child starve you are letting God 
starve. Get rid of all anxiety about tomorrow's dinner 
and clothes, because you cannot serve two masters : God 
and Mammon. 

3. Get rid of judges and punishment and revenge. 
Love your neighbor as yourself, he being a part of your- 
self. And love your enemies : they are your neighbors. 

4. Get rid of your family entanglements. Every 
mother you meet is as much your mother as the woman 
who bore you. Every man you meet is as much your 
brother as the man she bore after you. Don't waste your 
time at family funerals grieving for your relatives: at- 
tend to life, not to death: there are as good fish in the 
sea as ever came out of it, and better. In the kingdom of 
heaven, which, as aforesaid, is within you, there is no 
marriage nor giving in marriage, because you cannot de- 
vote your life to two divinities : God and the person you 
are married to. 

Now these are very interesting propositions ; and they 
become more interesting every day, as experience and 
science drive us more and more to consider them favor- 
ably. In considering them, we shall waste our time un- 
less we give them a reasonable construction. We must 
assume that the man who saw his way through such a 

Preface lxix 

mass of popular passion and illusion as stands between 
us and a sense of the value of such teaching was quite 
aware of all the objections that occur to an average 
stockbroker in the first five minutes. It is true that the 
world is governed to a considerable extent by the con- 
siderations that occur to stockbrokers in the first five 
minutes; but as the result is that the world is so badly 
governed that those who know the truth can hardly bear 
to live in it, an objection from an average stockbroker 
constitutes in itself a prima facie case for any social 

The Reduction to Modern Practice of 

All the same, we must reduce the ethical counsels and 
proposals of Jesus to modern practice if they are to be of 
any use to us. If we ask our stockbroker to act simply 
as Jesus advised his disciples to act, he will reply, very 
justly, "You are advising me to become a tramp." If 
we urge a rich man to sell all that he has and give it to 
the poor, he will inform us that such an operation is im- 
possible. If he sells his shares and his lands, their pur- 
chaser will continue all those activities which oppress the 
poor. If all the rich men take the advice simultaneously 
the shares will fall to zero and the lands be unsaleable. 
If one man sells out and throws the money into the slums, 
the only result will be to add himself and his dependents 
to the list of the poor, and to do no good to the poor be- 
yond giving a chance few of them a drunken spree. We 
must therefore bear in mind that whereas, in the time of 
Jesus, and in the ages which grew darker and darker 
after his death until the darkness, after a brief false 
dawn in the Reformation and the Renascence, culminated 
in the commercial night of the nineteenth century, it was 
believed that you could not make men good by Act of 

lxx Androcles and the Lion 

Parliament, we now know that you cannot make them 
good in any other way, and that a man who is better than 
his fellows is a nuisance. The rich man must sell up not 
only himself but his whole class; and that can be done 
only through the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The dis- 
ciple cannot have his bread without money until there is 
bread for everybody without money; and that requires 
an elaborate municipal organization of the food supply, 
rate supported. Being members one of another means 
One Man One Vote, and One Woman One Vote, and uni- 
versal suffrage and equal incomes and all sorts of modern 
political measures. Even in Syria in the time of Jesus 
his teachings could not possibly have been realized by a 
series of independent explosions of personal righteous- 
ness on the part of the separate units of the population. 
Jerusalem could not have done what even a village com- 
munity cannot do, and what Robinson Crusoe himself 
could not have done if his conscience, and the stern com- 
pulsion of Nature, had not imposed a common rule on 
the half dozen Robinson Crusoes who struggled within 
him for not wholly compatible satisfactions. And what 
cannot be done in Jerusalem or Juan Fernandez cannot 
be done in London, New York, Paris, and Berlin. 

In short, Christianity, good or bad, right or wrong, 
must perforce be left out of the question in human affairs 
until it is made practically applicable to them by compli- 
cated political devices; and to pretend that a field 
preacher under the governorship of Pontius Pilate, or 
even Pontius Pilate himself in council with all the wisdom 
of Rome, could have worked out applications of Chris- 
tianity or any other system of morals for the twentieth 
century, is to shelve the subject much more effectually 
than Nero and all its other persecutors ever succeeded in 
doing. Personal righteousness, and the view that you 
cannot make people moral by Act of Parliament, is, in 
fact, the favorite defensive resort of the people who, con- 

Preface lxxi 

sciously or subconsciously, are quite determined not to 
have their property meddled with by Jesus or any other 

Modern Communism. 

Now let us see what modern experience and modern 
sociology has to say to the teaching of Jesus as sum- 
marized on page lxviii. First, get rid of your property by 
throwing it into the common stock. One can hear the 
Pharisees of Jerusalem and Chorazin and Bethsaida say- 
ing, "My good fellow, if you were to divide up the wealth 
of Judea equally today, before the end of the year you 
would have rich and poor, poverty and affluence, just as 
you have today ; for there will always be the idle and the 
industrious, the thrifty and the wasteful, the drunken 
and the sober; and, as you yourself have very justly ob- 
served, the poor we shall have always with us." And we 
can hear the reply, "Woe unto you, liars and hypocrites ; 
for ye have this very day divided up the wealth of the 
country yourselves, as must be done every day (for man 
liveth not otherwise than from hand to mouth, nor can 
fish and eggs endure for ever) ; and ye have divided it 
unjustly; also ye have said that my reproach to you for 
having the poor always with you was a law unto you that 
this evil should persist and stink in the nostrils of God 
to all eternity; wherefore I think that Lazarus will yet 
see you beside Dives in hell." Modern Capitalism has 
made short work of the primitive pleas for inequality. 
The Pharisees themselves have organized communism in 
capital. Joint stock is the order of the day. An attempt 
to return to individual properties as the basis of our pro- 
duction would smash civilization more completely than 
ten revolutions. You cannot get the fields tilled today 
until the farmer becomes a co-operator. Take the share- 
holder to his railway, and ask him to point out to you 

lxxii Androcles and the Lion 

the particular length of rail, the particular seat in the 
railway carriage, the particular lever in the engine that 
is his very own and nobody elses; and he will shun you 
as a madman, very wisely. And if, like Ananias and 
Sapphira, you try to hold back your little shop or what 
not from the common stock, represented by the Trust, or 
Combine, or Kartel, the Trust will presently freeze you 
out and rope you in and finally strike you dead indus- 
trially as thoroughly as St. Peter himself. There is no 
longer any practical question open as to Communism in 
production: the struggle today is over the distribution of 
the product: that is, over the daily dividing-up which is 
the first necessity of organized society. 


Now it needs no Christ to convince anybody today that 
our system of distribution is wildly and monstrously 
wrong. We have million-dollar babies side by side with 
paupers worn out by a long life of unremitted drudgery. 
One person in every five dies in a workhouse, a public 
hospital, or a madhouse. In cities like London the pro- 
portion is very nearly one in two. Naturally so outrage- 
ous a distribution has to be effected by violence pure and 
simple. If you demur, you are sold up. If you resist the 
selling up you are bludgeoned and imprisoned, the 
process being euphemistically called the maintenance of 
law and order. Iniquity can go no further. By this time 
nobody who knows the figures of the distribution defends 
them. The most bigoted British Conservative hesitates 
to say that his king should be much poorer than Mr. 
Rockefeller, or to proclaim the moral superiority of 
prostitution to needlework on the ground that it pays 
better. The need for a drastic redistribution of income 
in all civilized countries is now as obvious and as gen- 
erally admitted as the need for sanitation. 

Preface lxxiii 

Shall He Who Makes, Own. 

It is when we come to the question of the proportions 
in which we are to redistribute that controversy begins. 
We are bewildered by an absurdly unpractical. notion that 
in some way a man's income should be given to him, not 
to enable him to live, but as a sort of Sunday School 
Prize for good behavior. And this folly is complicated 
by a less ridiculous but quite as unpractical belief that it 
is possible' to assign to each person the exact portion of 
the national income that he or she has produced. To a 
child it seems that the blacksmith has made a horse-shoe, 
and that therefore the horse-shoe is his. But the black- 
smith knows that the horse-shoe does not belong solely to 
him, but to his landlord, to the rate collector and tax- 
gatherer, to the men from whom he bought the iron and 
anvil and the coals, leaving only a scrap of its value 
for himself; and this scrap he has to exchange with the 
butcher and baker and the clothier for the things that he 
really appropriates as living tissue or its wrappings, pay- 
ing for all of them more than their cost ; for these fellow 
traders of his have also their landlords and moneylenders 
to satisfy. If, then, such simple and direct village ex- 
amples of apparent individual production turn out on a 
moment's examination to be the products of an elaborate 
social organization, what is to be said of such products 
as dreadnoughts, factory-made pins and needles, and 
steel pens? If God takes the dreadnought in one hand 
and a steel pen in the other, and asks Job who made 
them, and to whom they should belong by maker's right, 
Job must scratch his puzzled head with a potsherd and 
be dumb, unless indeed it strikes him that God is the 
ultimate maker, and that all we have a right to do with 
the product is to feed his lambs. 

lxxiv Androcles and the Lion 

Labor Time. 

So maker's right as an alternative to taking the advice 
of Jesus would not work. In practice nothing was possi- 
ble in that direction but to pay a worker by labor time: 
so much an hour or day or week or year. But how much ? 
When that question came up, the only answer was "as 
little as he can be starved into accepting/' with the 
ridiculous results already mentioned, and the additional 
anomaly that the largest share went to the people who 
did not work at all, and the least to those who worked 
hardest. In England nine-tenths of the wealth goes into 
the pockets of one-tenth of the population. 

The Dream of Distribution According 
to Merit. 

Against this comes the protest of the Sunday School 
theorists "Why not distribute according to merit?" Here 
one imagines Jesus, whose smile has been broadening 
down the ages as attempt after attempt to escape from 
his teaching has led to deeper and deeper disaster, laugh- 
ing outright. Was ever so idiotic a project mooted as the 
estimation of virtue in money? The London School of 
Economics is, we must suppose, to set examination papers 
with such questions as, "Taking the money value of the 
virtues of Jesus as 100, and of Judas Iscariot as zero, 
give the correct figures for, respectively, Pontius Pilate, 
the proprietor of the Gadarene swine, the widow who put 
her mite in the poor-box, Mr. Horatio Bottomley, Shakes- 
pear, Mr. Jack Johnson, Sir Isaac Newton, Palestrina, 
Offenbach, Sir Thomas Lipton, Mr. Paul Cinquevalli, 
your family doctor, Florence Nightingale, Mrs. Siddons, 
your charwoman, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the 
common hangman." Or "The late Mr. Barney Barnato 

Preface lxxv 

received as his lawful income three thousand times as 
much money as an English agricultural laborer of good 
general character. Name the principal virtues in which 
Mr. Barnato exceeded the laborer three thousandfold; 
and give in figures the loss sustained by civilization when 
Mr. Barnato was driven to despair and suicide by the re- 
duction of his multiple to one thousand." The Sunday 
School idea, with its principle "to each the income he 
deserves" is really too silly for discussion. Hamlet dis- 
posed of it three hundred years ago. "Use every man 
after his deserts, and who shall scape whipping ?" Jesus 
remains unshaken as the practical man ; and we stand ex- 
posed as the fools, the blunderers, the unpractical vision- 
aries. The moment you try to reduce the Sunday School 
idea to figures you find that it brings you back to the 
hopeless plan of paying for a man's time; and your ex- 
amination paper will read "The time of Jesus was worth 
nothing (he complained that the foxes had holes and the 
birds of the air nests whilst he had not a place to lay his 
head). Dr. Crippen's time was worth, say, three hundred 
and fifty pounds a year. Criticize this arrangement; 
and, if you dispute its justice, state in pounds, dollars, 
francs and marks, what their relative time wages ought 
to have been." Your answer may be that the question 
is in extremely bad taste and that you decline to answer 
it. But you cannot object to being asked how many 
minutes of a bookmaker's time is worth two hours of an 
astronomer's ? 

Vital Distribution. 

In the end you are forced to ask the question you 
should have asked at the beginning. What do you give 
a man an income for? Obviously to keep him alive. 
Since it is evident that the first condition on which he can 
be kept alive without enslaving somebody else is that he 

lxxvi Androcles and the Lion 

shall produce an equivalent for what it costs to keep him 
alive, we may quite rationally compel him to abstain from 
idling by whatever means we employ to compel him to 
abstain from murder, arson, forgery, or any other crime. 
The one supremely foolish thing to do with him is to do 
nothing: that is, to be as idle, lazy, and heartless in deal- 
ing with him as he is in dealing with us. Even if we pro- 
vided work for him instead of basing, as we do, our whole 
industrial system on successive competitive waves of over- 
work with their ensuing troughs of unemployment, we 
should still sternly deny him the alternative of not doing 
it; for the result must be that he will become poor and 
make his children poor if he has any; and poor people 
are cancers in the commonwealth, costing far more than 
if they were handsomely pensioned off as incurables. 
Jesus had more sense than to propose anything of the 
sort. He said to his disciples, in effect, "Do your work 
for love; and let the other people lodge and feed and 
clothe you for love." Or, as we should put it nowadays, 
"for nothing." All human experience and all natural un- 
commercialized human aspiration point to this as the 
right path. The Greeks said, "First secure an inde- 
pendent income; and then practise virtue."- We all strive 
towards an independent income. We all know as well 
as Jesus did that if we have to take thought for the mor- 
row as to whether there shall be anything to eat or drink 
it will be impossible for us to think of nobler things, or 
live a higher life than that of a mole, whose life is from 
beginning to end a frenzied pursuit of food. Until the 
community is organized in such a way that the fear of 
bodily want is forgotten as completely as the fear of 
wolves already is in civilized capitals, we shall never have 
a decent social life. Indeed the whole attraction of our 
present arrangements lies in the fact that they do relieve 
a handful of us from this fear ; but as the relief is effected 
stupidly and wickedly by making the favored handful 

y-t/\ a fi~£t 

Preface lxxvii 

parasitic on the rest, they are smitten with the degeneracy 
which seems to be the inevitable biological penalty of 
complete parasitism, and corrupt culture and statecraft 
instead of contributing to them, their excessive leisure 
being as mischievous as the excessive toil of the laborers. 
Anyhow, the moral is clear. The two main problems of 
organized society, how to secure the subsistence of all its 
members, and how to prevent the theft of that subsistence 
by idlers, should be entirely dissociated ; and the practical 
failure of one of them to automatically achieve the other 
recognized and acted on. We may not all have Jesus's 
psychological power of seeing, without any enlightenment 
from more modern economic phenomena, that they must 
fail; but we have the hard fact before us that they do 
fail. The only people who cling to the lazy delusion that 
it is possible to find a just distribution that will work 
automatically are those who postulate some revolutionary 
change like land nationalization, which by itself would 
obviously only force into greater urgency the problem of 
how to distribute the product of the land among all the 
individuals in the community. 

Equal Distribution. 

When that problem is at last faced, the question of the 
proportion in which the national income shall be dis- 
tributed can have only one answer. All our shares must 
be equal. It has always been so; it always will be so. 
It is true that the incomes of robbers vary considerably 
from individual to individual; and the variation is re- 
flected in the incomes of their parasites. The com- 
mercialization of certain exceptional talents has also pro- 
duced exceptional incomes, direct and derivative. Per- 
sons who live on rent of land and capital are economi- 
cally, though not legally, in the category of robbers, and 
have grotesquely different incomes. But in the huge mass 

lxxviii Androcles and the Lion 

of mankind variation of income from individual to in- 
dividual is unknown, because it is ridiculously imprac- 
ticable. As a device for persuading a carpenter that a 
judge is a creature of superior nature to himself, to be 
deferred and submitted to even to the death, we may give 
a carpenter a hundred pounds a year and a judge five 
thousand ; but the wage for one carpenter is the wage for 
all the carpenters: the salary for one judge is the salary 
for all the judges. 

The Captain and the Cabin Boy. 

Nothing, therefore, is really in question, or ever has 
been, but the differences between class incomes. Already 
there is economic equality between captains, and economic 
equality between cabin boys. What is at issue still is 
whether there shall be economic equality between cap- 
tains and cabin boys. What would Jesus have said ? Pre- 
sumably he would have said that if your only object is 
to produce a captain and a cabin boy for the purpose of 
transferring you from Liverpool to New York, or to 
manoeuvre a fleet and carry powder from the magazine 
to the gun, then you need give no more than a shilling to 
the cabin boy for every pound you give to the more ex- 
pensively trained captain. But if in addition to this you 
desire to allow the two human souls which are insepar- 
able from the captain and the cabin boy, and which alone 
differentiate them from the donkey-engine, to develop all 
their possibilities, then you may find the cabin boy costing 
rather more than the captain, because cabin boy's work 
does not do so much for the soul as captain's work. Con- 
sequently you will have to give him at least as much as 
the captain unless you definitely wish him to be a lower 
creature, in which case the sooner you are hanged as an 
abortionist the better. That is the fundamental argu- 

Preface lxxix 

The Political and Biological Objections 
to Inequality. 

But there are other reasons for objecting to class strati- 
fication of income which have heaped themselves up since 
the time of Jesus. In politics it defeats every form of 
government except that of a necessarily corrupt oli- 
garchy. Democracy in the most democratic modern re- 
publics : France and the United States for example, is an 
imposture and a delusion. It reduces justice and law to 
a farce: law becomes merely an instrument for keeping 
the poor in subjection; and accused workmen are tried, 
not by a jury of their peers, but by conspiracies of their 
exploiters. The press is the press of the rich and the 
curse of the poor: it becomes dangerous to teach men to 
read. The priest becomes the mere complement of the 
policeman in the machinery by which the countryhouse 
oppresses the village. Worst of all, marriage becomes a 
class affair: the infinite variety of choice which nature 
offers to the young in search of a mate is narrowed to a 
handful of persons of similar income; and beauty and 
health become the dreams of artists and the advertise- 
ments of quacks instead of the normal conditions of life. 
Society is not only divided but actually destroyed in all 
directions by inequality of income between classes: such 
stability as it has is due to the huge blocks of people be- 
tween whom there is equality of income. 

Jesus as Economist. 

It seems therefore that we must begin by holding the 
right to an income as sacred and equal, just as we now 
begin by holding the right to life as sacred and equal. 
Indeed the one right is only a restatement of the other. 
To hang me for cutting a dock laborer's throat after 
making much of me for leaving him to starve when I do 

lxxx Androcles and the Lion 

not happen to have a ship for him to unload is idiotic; 
for as he does far less mischief with his throat cut than 
when he is starving, a rational society would esteem the 
cutthroat more highly than the capitalist. The thing has 
become so obvious, and the evil so unendurable, that if our 
attempt at civilization is not to perish like all the pre- 
vious ones, we shall have to organize our society in such 
a way as to be able to say to every person in the land, 
"Take no thought, saying What shall we eat? or What 
shall we drink? or Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" 
We shall then no longer have a race of men whose hearts 
are in their pockets and safes and at their bankers. As 
Jesus said, where your treasure is, there will your heart 
be also. That was why he recommended that money 
should cease to be a treasure, and that we should take 
steps to make ourselves utterly reckless of it, setting our 
minds free for higher uses. In other words, that we 
should all be gentlemen and take care of our country be- 
cause our country takes care of us, instead of the com- 
mercialized cads we are, doing everything and anything 
for money, and selling our souls and bodies by the pound 
and the inch after wasting half the day haggling over the 
price. Decidedly, whether you think Jesus was God or 
not, you must admit that he was a first-rate political 

Jesus as Biologist. 

He was also, as we now see, a first-rate biologist. It 
took a century and a half of evolutionary preachers, from 
Buffon and Goethe to Butler and Bergson, to convince us 
that we and our father are one; that as the kingdom of 
heaven is within us we need not go about looking for it 
and crying Lo here! and Lo there!; that God is not a 
picture of a pompous person in white robes in the family 
Bible, but a spirit; that it is through this spirit that we 

Preface lxxxi 

evolve towards greater abundance of life ; that we are the 
lamps in which the light of the world burns: that, in 
short, we are gods though we die like men. All that is 
today sound biology and psychology; and the efforts of 
Natural Selectionists like Weismann to reduce evolution 
to mere automatism have not touched the doctrine of 
Jesus, though they have made short work of the the- 
ologians who conceived God as a magnate keeping men 
and angels as Lord Rothschild keeps buffaloes and emus 
at Tring. 

Money the Midwife of Scientific 

It may be asked here by some simple-minded reader 
why we should not resort to crude Communism as the 
disciples were told to do. This would be quite prac- 
ticable in a village where production was limited to the 
supply of the primitive wants which nature imposes on 
all human beings alike. We know that people need 
bread and boots without waiting for them to come and ask 
for these things and offer to pay for them. But when 
civilization advances to the point at which articles are 
produced that no man absolutely needs and that only 
some men fancy or can use, it is necessary that in- 
dividuals should be able to have things made to their 
order and at their own cost. It is safe to provide bread 
for everybody because everybody wants and eats bread; 
but it would be absurd to provide microscopes and trom- 
bones, pet snakes and polo mallets, alembics and test 
tubes for everybody, as nine-tenths of them would be 
wasted ; and the nine-tenths of the population who do not 
use such things would object to their being provided at 
all. We have in the invaluable instrument called money 
a means of enabling every individual to order and pay for 

lxxxii Androcles and the Lion 

the particular things he desires over and above the things 
he must consume in order to remain alive, plus the things 
the State insists on his having and using whether he wants 
to or not; for example, clothes, sanitary arrangements, 
armies and navies. In large communities, where even the 
most eccentric demands for manufactured articles aver- 
age themselves out until they can be foreseen within a 
negligible margin of error, direct communism (Take what 
you want without payment, as the people do in Morris's 
News From Nowhere) will, after a little experience, be 
found not only practicable but highly economical to an 
extent that now seems impossible. The sportsmen, the 
musicians, the physicists, the biologists will get their ap- 
paratus for the asking as easily as their bread, or, as at 
present, their paving, street lighting, and bridges; and 
the deaf man will not object to contribute to communal 
flutes when the musician has to contribute to communal 
ear trumpets. There are cases (for example, radium) in 
which the demand may be limited to the merest handful 
of laboratory workers, and in which nevertheless the 
whole community must pay because the price is beyond 
the means of any individual worker. But even when the 
utmost allowance is made for extensions of communism 
that now seem fabulous, there will still remain for a long 
time to come regions of supply and demand in which men 
will need and use money or individual credit, and for 
which, therefore, they must have individual incomes. 
Foreign travel is an obvious instance. We are so far 
from even national communism still, that we shall prob- 
ably have considerable developments of local communism 
before it becomes possible for a Manchester man to go 
up to London for a day without taking any money with 
him. The modern practical form of the communism of 
Jesus is therefore, for the present, equal distribution of 
the surplus of the national income that is not absorbed by 
simple communism. 

Preface lxxxiii 

Judge Not. 

In dealing with crime and the family, modern thought 
and experience have thrown no fresh light on the views 
of Jesus. When Swift had occasion to illustrate the cor- 
ruption of our civilization by making a catalogue of the 
types of scoundrels it produces, he always gave judges 
a conspicuous place alongside of them they judged. And 
he seems to have done this not as a restatement of the 
doctrine of Jesus, but as the outcome of his own observa- 
tion and judgment. One of Mr. Gilbert Chesterton's 
stories has for its hero a judge who, whilst trying a crim- 
inal case, is so overwhelmed by the absurdity of his posi- 
tion and the wickedness of the things it forces him to 
do, that he throws off the ermine there and then, and goes 
out into the world to live the life of an honest man in- 
stead of that of a cruel idol. There has also been a prop- 
aganda of a soulless stupidity called Determinism, repre- 
senting man as a dead object driven hither and thither 
by his environment, antecedents, circumstances, and so 
forth, which nevertheless does remind us that there are 
limits to the number of cubits an individual can add to his 
stature morally or physically, and that it is silly as well 
as cruel to torment a man five feet high for not being able 
to pluck fruit that is within the reach of men of average 
height. I have known a case of an unfortunate child 
being beaten for not being able to tell the time after 
receiving an elaborate explanation of the figures on a 
clock dial, the fact being that she was short-sighted and 
could not see them. This is a typical illustration of the 
absurdities and cruelties into which we are led by the 
counter-stupidity to Determinism: the doctrine of Free 
Will. The notion that people can be good if they like, 
and that you should give them a powerful additional 
motive for goodness by tormenting them when they do 
evil, would soon reduce itself to absurdity if its applica- 

lxxxiv Androcles and the Lion 

tion were not kept within the limits which nature sets to 
the self-control of most of us. Nobody supposes that a 
man with no ear for music or no mathematical faculty 
could be compelled on pain of death, however cruelly in- 
flicted, to hum all the themes of Beethoven's symphonies 
or to complete Newton's work on fluxions. 

Limits to Free Will. 

Consequently such of our laws as are not merely the 
intimidations by which tyrannies are maintained under 
pretext of law, can be obeyed through the exercise of a 
quite common degree of reasoning power and self-control. 
Most men and women can endure the ordinary annoy- 
ances and disappointments of life without committing 
murderous assaults. They conclude therefore that any 
person can refrain from such assaults if he or she chooses 
to, and proceed to reinforce self-control by threats of 
severe punishment. But in this they are mistaken. There 
are people, some of them possessing considerable powers 
of mind and body, who can no more restrain the fury into 
which a trifling mishap throws them than a dog can re- 
strain himself from snapping if he is suddenly and pain- 
fully pinched. People fling knives and lighted paraffin 
lamps at one another in a dispute over a dinner-table. 
Men who have suffered several long sentences of penal 
servitude for murderous assaults will, the very day after 
they are released, seize their wives and cast them under 
drays at an irritating word. We have not only people 
who cannot resist an opportunity of stealing for the sake 
of satisfying their wants, but even people who have a 
specific mania for stealing, and do it when they are in no 
need of the things they steal. Burglary fascinates some 
men as sailoring fascinates some boys. Among respect- 
able people how many are there who can be restrained 
by the warnings of their doctors and the lessons of ex- 

Preface lxxxv 

perience from eating and drinking more than is good for 
them? It is true that between self-controlled people and 
ungovernable people there is a narrow margin of moral 
malingerers who can be made to behave themselves by the 
fear of consequences; but it is not worth while maintain- 
ing an abominable system of malicious, deliberate, costly 
and degrading ill-treatment of criminals for the sake of 
these marginal cases. For practical dealing with crime, 
Determinism or Predestination is quite a good working 
rule. People without self-control enough for social pur- 
poses may be killed, or may be kept in asylums with a 
view to studying their condition and ascertaining whether 
it is curable. To torture them and give ourselves virtu- 
ous airs at their expense is ridiculous and barbarous ; and 
the desire to do it is vindictive and cruel. And though 
vindictiveness and cruelty are at least human qualities 
when they are frankly proclaimed and indulged, they are 
loathsome when they assume the robes of Justice. Which, 
I take it, is why Shakespear's Isabella gave such a dress- 
ing-down to Judge Angelo, and why Swift reserved the 
hottest corner of his hell for judges. Also, of course, 
why Jesus said "Judge not that ye be not judged" and 
"If any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him 
not" because "he hath one that judgeth him": namely, 
the Father who is one with him. 

When we are robbed we generally appeal to the crim- 
inal law, not considering that if the criminal law were ef- 
fective we should not have been robbed. That convicts 
us of vengeance. 

I need not elaborate the argument further. I have 
dealt with it sufficiently elsewhere. I have only to point 
out that we have been judging and punishing ever since 
Jesus told us not to; and I defy anyone to make out a 
convincing case for believing that the world has been any 
better than it would have been if there had never been 
a judge, a prison, or a gallows in it all that time. We 

lxxxvi Androcles and the Lion 

have simply added the misery of punishment to the 
misery of crime, and the cruelty of the judge to the 
cruelty of the criminal. We have taken the bad man, 
and made him worse by torture and degradation, inci- 
dentally making ourselves worse in the process. It does 
not seem very sensible, does it? It would have been far 
easier to kill him as kindly as possible, or to label him 
and leave him to his conscience, or to treat him as an in- 
valid or a lunatic is now treated (it is only of late years, 
by the way, that madmen have been delivered from the 
whip, the chain, and the cage) ; and this, I presume, is 
the form in which the teaching of Jesus could have been 
put into practice. 

Jesus on Marriage and the Family. 

When we come to marriage and the family, we find 
Jesus making the same objection to that individual appro- 
priation of human beings which is the essence of matri- 
mony as to the individual appropriation of wealth. A 
married man, he said, will try to please his wife, and a 
married woman to please her husband, instead of doing 
the work of God. This is another version of "Where your 
treasure is, there will your heart be also." Eighteen hun- 
dred years later we find a very different person from 
Jesus, Talleyrand to wit, saying the same thing. A mar- 
ried man with a family, said Talleyrand, will do anything 
for money. Now this, though not a scientifically precise 
statement, is true enough to be a moral objection to mar- 
riage. As long as a man has a right to risk his life or 
his livelihood for his ideas he needs only courage and con- 
viction to make his integrity unassailable. But he for- 
feits that right when he marries. It took a revolution to 
rescue Wagner from his Court appointment at Dresden; 
and his wife never forgave him for being glad and feeling 
free when he lost it and threw her back into poverty. 

Preface lxxxvii 

Millet might have gone on painting potboiling nudes to 
the end of his life if his wife had not been of a heroic 
turn herself. Women, for the sake of their children and 
parents, submit to slaveries and prostitutions that no un- 
attached woman would endure. 

This was the beginning and the end of the objection of 
Jesus to marriage and family ties, and the explanation 
of his conception of heaven as a place where there should 
be neither marrying nor giving in marriage. Now there 
is no reason to suppose that when he said this he did not 
mean it. He did not, as St. Paul did afterwards in his 
name, propose celibacy as a rule of life ; for he was not a 
fool, nor, when he denounced marriage, had he yet come 
to believe, as St. Paul did, that the end of the world was 
at hand and there was therefore no more need to re- 
plenish the earth. He must have meant that the race 
should be continued without dividing with women and 
men the allegiance the individual owes to God within 
him. This raises the practical problem of how we are 
to secure the spiritual freedom and integrity of the 
priest and the nun without their barrenness and uncom- 
pleted experience. Luther the priest did not solve the 
problem by marrying a nun : he only testified in the most 
convincing and practical way to the fact that celibacy was 
a worse failure than marriage. 

Why Jesus did not Marry. 

To all appearance the problem oppresses only a few 
exceptional people. Thoroughly conventional women 
married to thoroughly conventional men should not be 
conscious of any restriction: the chain not only leaves 
them free to do whatever they want to do, but greatly 
facilitates their doing it. To them an attack on mar- 
riage is not a blow struck in defence of their freedom 
but at their rights and privileges. One would expect 

lxxxviii Androcles and the Lion 

that they would not only demur vehemently to the teach- 
ings of Jesus in this matter, but object strongly to his 
not having been a married man himself. Even those who 
regard him as a god descended from his throne in heaven 
to take on humanity for a time might reasonably declare 
that the assumption of humanity must have been incom- 
plete at its most vital point if he were a celibate. But 
the facts are flatly contrary. The mere thought of Jesus 
as a married man is felt to be blasphemous by the most 
conventional believers; and even those of us to whom 
Jesus is no supernatural personage, but a prophet only 
as Mahomet was a prophet, feel that there was something 
more dignified in the bachelordom of Jesus than in the 
spectacle of Mahomet lying distracted on the floor of his 
harem whilst his wives stormed and squabbled and hen- 
pecked round him. We are not surprised that when 
Jesus called the sons of Zebedee to follow him, he did 
not call their father, and that the disciples, like Jesus 
himself, were all men without family entanglements. It 
is evident from his impatience when people excused 
themselves from following him because of their family 
funerals, or when they assumed that his first duty was 
to his mother, that he had found family ties and domestic 
affections in his way at every turn, and had become per- 
suaded at last that no man could follow his inner light 
until he was free from their compulsion. The absence of 
any protest against this tempts us to declare on this 
question of marriage there are no conventional people; 
and that everyone of us is at heart a good Christian 

Inconsistency of the Sex Instinct. 

But the question is not so simple as that. Sex is an 
exceedingly subtle and complicated instinct; and the 
mass of mankind neither know nor care much about free- 

Preface lxxxix 

dom of conscience, which is what Jesus was thinking 
about, and are concerned almost to obsession with sex, 
as to which Jesus said nothing. In our sexual natures 
we are torn by an irresistible attraction and an over- 
whelming repugnance and disgust. We have two tyran- 
nous physical passions: concupiscence and chastity. We 
become mad in pursuit of sex : we become equally mad in 
the persecution of that pursuit. Unless we gratify our 
desire the race is lost: unless we restrain it we destroy 
ourselves. We are thus led to devise marriage institutions 
which will at the same time secure opportunities for the 
gratification of sex and raise up innumerable obstacles to 
it ; which will sanctify it and brand it as infamous ; which 
will identify it with virtue and with sin simultaneously. 
Obviously it is useless to look for any consistency in such 
institutions; and it is only by continual reform and re- 
adjustment, and by a considerable elasticity in their en- 
forcement, that a tolerable result can be arrived at. I 
need not repeat here the long and elaborate examination 
of them that I prefixed to my play entitled Getting 
Married. Here I am concerned only with the views of 
Jesus on the question; and it is necessary, in order to 
understand the attitude of the world towards them, that 
we should not attribute the general approval of the de- 
cision of Jesus to remain unmarried as an endorsement 
of his views. We are simply in a state of confusion on 
the subject; but it is part of the confusion that we 
should conclude that Jesus was a celibate, and shrink 
even from the idea that his birth was a natural one, yet 
cling with ferocity to the sacredness of the institution 
which provides a refuge from celibacy. 

For Better for Worse. 

Jesus, however, did not express a complicated view of 
marriage. His objection to it was quite simple, as we 

xc Androcles and the Lion 

have seen. He perceived that nobody could live the 
higher life unless money and sexual love were obtainable 
without sacrificing it; and he saw that the effect of mar- 
riage as it existed among the Jews (and as it still exists 
among ourselves) was to make the couples sacrifice every 
higher consideration until they had fed and pleased one 
another. The worst of it is that this dangerous pre- 
posterousness in marriage, instead of improving as the 
general conduct of married couples improves, becomes 
much worse. The selfish man to whom his wife is noth- 
ing but a slave, the selfish woman to whom her husband 
is nothing but a scapegoat and a breadwinner, are not 
held back from spiritual or any other adventures by fear 
of their effect on the welfare of their mates. Their wives 
do not make recreants and cowards of them: their hus- 
bands do not chain them to the cradle and the cooking 
range when their feet should be beautiful on the moun- 
tains. It is precisely as people become more kindly, more 
conscientious, more ready to shoulder the heavier part 
of the burden (which means that the strong shall give 
way to the weak and the slow hold back the swift), that 
marriage becomes an intolerable obstacle to individual 
evolution. And that is why the revolt against marriage 
of which Jesus was an exponent always recurs when 
civilization raises the standard of marital duty and af- 
fection, and at the same time produces a greater need for 
individual freedom in pursuit of a higher evolution. 

The Remedy. 

This, fortunately, is only one side of marriage ; and the 
question arises, can it not be eliminated? The reply is 
reassuring: of course it can. There is no mortal reason 
in the nature of things why a married couple should be 
economically dependent on one another. The Commun- 
ism advocated by Jesus, which we have seen to be en- 

Preface xci 

tirely practicable, and indeed inevitable if our civilization 
is to be saved from collapse, gets rid of that difficulty 
completely. And with the economic dependence will go 
the force of the outrageous claims that derive their real 
sanction from the economic pressure behind them. When 
a man allows his wife to turn him from the best work he 
is capable of doing, and to sell his soul at the highest 
commercial prices obtainable; when he allows her to en- 
tangle him in a social routine that is wearisome and de- 
bilitating to him, or tie him to her apron strings when he 
needs that occasional solitude which is one of the most 
sacred of human rights, he does so because he has no 
right to impose eccentric standards of expenditure and 
unsocial habits on her, and because these conditions have 
produced by their pressure so general a custom of chain- 
ing wedded couples to one another that married people 
are coarsely derided when their partners break the chain. 
And when a woman is condemned by her parents to wait 
in genteel idleness and uselessness for a husband when 
all her healthy social instincts call her to acquire a pro- 
fession and work, it is again her economic dependence on 
them that makes their tyranny effective. 

The Case for Marriage. 

Thus, though it would be too much to say that every- 
thing that is obnoxious in marriage and family life will 
be cured by Communism, yet it can be said that it will 
cure what Jesus objected to in these institutions. He 
made no comprehensive study of them : he only expressed 
his own grievance with an overwhelming sense that it is 
a grievance so deep that all the considerations on the 
other side are as dust in the balance. Obviously there 
are such considerations, and very weighty ones too. 
When Talleyrand said that a married man with a family 
is capable of anything, he meant anything evil; but an 

xcii Androcles and the Lion 

optimist may declare, with equal half truth, that a mar- 
ried man is capable of anything good; that marriage turns 
vagabonds into steady citizens ; and that men and women 
will, for love of their mates and children, practise virtues 
that unattached individuals are incapable of. It is true 
that too much of this domestic virtue is self-denial, which 
is not a virtue at all; but then the following of the inner 
light at all costs is largely self-indulgence, which is just 
as suicidal, just as weak, just as cowardly as self-denial. 
Ibsen, who takes us into the matter far more resolutely 
than Jesus, is unable to find any golden rule : both Brand 
and Peer Gynt come to a bad end; and though Brand 
does not do as much mischief as Peer, the mischief he 
does do is of extraordinary intensity. 

Celibacy no Remedy. 

We must, I think, regard the protest of Jesus against 
marriage and family ties as the claim of a particular kind 
of individual to be free from them because they hamper 
his own work intolerably. When he said that if we are 
to follow him in the sense of taking up his work we must 
give up our family ties, he was simply stating a fact ; and 
to this day the Roman Catholic priest, the Buddhist lama, 
and the fakirs of all the eastern denominations accept the 
saying. It is also accepted by the physically enterpris- 
ing, the explorers, the restlessly energetic of all kinds: 
in short, by the adventurous. The greatest sacrifice in 
marriage is the sacrifice of the adventurous attitude to- 
wards life : the being settled. Those who are born tired 
may crave for settlement; but to fresher and stronger 
spirits it is a form of suicide. 

Now to say of any institution that it is incompatible 
with both the contemplative and adventurous life is to 
disgrace it so vitally that all the moralizings of all the 
Deans and Chapters cannot reconcile our souls to its 

Preface xciii 

slavery. The unmarried Jesus and the unmarried Bee- 
thoven, the unmarried Joan of Arc, Clare, Teresa, Flor- 
ence Nightingale seem as they should be ; and the saying 
that there is always something ridiculous about a mar- 
ried philosopher becomes inevitable. And yet the celibate 
is still more ridiculous than the married man: the priest, 
in accepting the alternative of celibacy, disables himself ; 
and the best priests are those who have been men of this 
world before they became men of the world to come. 
But as the taking of vows does not annul an existing mar- 
riage, and a married man cannot become a priest, we are 
again confronted with the absurdity that the best priest 
is a reformed rake. Thus does marriage, itself intoler- 
able, thrust us upon intolerable alternatives. The prac- 
tical solution is to make the individual economically in- 
dependent of marriage and the family, and to make mar- 
riage as easily dissoluble as any other partnership: in 
other words, to accept the conclusions to which experi- 
ence is slowly driving both our sociologists and our legis- 
lators. This will not instantly cure all the evils of mar- 
riage, nor root up at one stroke its detestable tradition of 
property in human bodies. But it will leave Nature free 
to effect a cure ; and in free soil the root may wither and 

This disposes of all the opinions and teachings of 
Jesus which are still matters of controversy. They are 
all in line with the best modern thought. He told us what 
we have to do ; and we have had to find the way to do it. 
Most of us are still, as most were in his own time, ex- 
tremely recalcitrant, and are being forced along that 
way by painful pressure of circumstances, protesting at 
every step that nothing will induce us to go; that it is 
a ridiculous way, a disgraceful way, a socialistic way, an 
atheistic way, an immoral way, and that the vanguard 
ought to be ashamed of themselves and must be made to 
turn back at once. But they find that they have to fol- 

xciv Androcles and the Lion 

low the vanguard all the same if their lives are to be 
worth living. 

After the Crucifixion. 

Let us now return to the New Testament narrative ; for 
what happened after the disappearance of Jesus is in- 
structive. Unfortunately, the crucifixion was a complete 
political success. I remember that when I described it 
in these terms once before, I greatly shocked a most re- 
spectable newspaper in my native town, the Dublin Daily 
Express, because my journalistic phrase shewed that I 
was treating it as an ordinary event like Home Rule or 
the Insurance Act: that is (though this did not occur to 
the editor), as a real event which had really happened, 
instead of a portion of the Church service. I can only 
repeat, assuming as I am that it was a real event and did 
actually happen, that it was as complete a success as any 
in history. Christianity as a specific doctrine was slain 
with Jesus, suddenly and utterly. He was hardly cold 
in his grave, or high in his heaven (as you please), before 
the apostles dragged the tradition of him down to the 
level of the thing it has remained ever since. And that 
thing the intelligent heathen may study, if they would 
be instructed in it by modern books, in Samuel Butler's 
novel, The Way of All Flesh. 

The Vindictive Miracles and the 
Stoning of Stephen. 

Take, for example, the miracles. Of Jesus alone of all 
the Christian miracle workers there is no record, except 
in certain gospels that all men reject, of a malicious or 
destructive miracle. A barren fig-tree was the only vic- 
tim of his anger. Every one of his miracles on sentient 

Preface xcv 

subjects was an act of kindness. John declares that he 
healed the wound of the man whose ear was cut off (by 
Peter, John says) at the arrest in the garden. One of 
the first things the apostles did with their miraculous 
power was to strike dead a wretched man and his wife 
who had defrauded them by holding back some money 
from the common stock. They struck people blind or 
dead without remorse, judging because they had been 
judged. They healed the sick and raised the dead ap- 
parently in a spirit of pure display and advertisement. 
Their doctrine did not contain a ray of that light which 
reveals Jesus as one of the redeemers of men from folly 
and error. They cancelled him, and went back straight 
to John the Baptist and his formula of securing remis- 
sion of sins by repentance and the rite of baptism (being 
born again of water and the spirit). Peter's first 
harangue softens us by the human touch of its exordium, 
which was a quaint assurance to his hearers that they 
must believe him to be sober because it was too early in 
the day to get drunk; but of Jesus he had nothing to 
say except that he was the Christ foretold by the prophets 
as coming from the seed of David, and that they must 
believe this and be baptized. To this the other apostles 
added incessant denunciations of the Jews for having 
crucified him, and threats of the destruction that would 
overtake them if they did not repent: that is, if they did 
not join the sect which the apostles were now forming. 
A quite intolerable young speaker named Stephen de- 
livered an oration to the council, in which he first in- 
flicted on them a tedious sketch of the history of Israel, 
with which they were presumably as well acquainted as 
he, and then reviled them in the most insulting terms as 
"stiffnecked and uncircumcized." Finally, after boring 
and annoying them to the utmost bearable extremity, he 
looked up and declared that he saw the heavens open, 
and Christ standing on the right hand of God. This was 

xcvi Androcles and the Lion 

too much: they threw him out of the city and stoned him 
to death. It was a severe way of suppressing a tactless 
and conceited bore; but it was pardonable and human 
in comparison to the slaughter of^poor Ananias and 


Suddenly a man of genius, Paul, violently anti-Chris- 
tian, enters on the scene, holding the clothes of the men 
who are stoning Stephen. He persecutes the Christians 
with great vigor, a sport which he combines with the 
business of a tentmaker. This temperamental hatred of 
Jesus, whom he has never seen, is a pathological symp- 
tom of that particular sort of conscience and nervous con- 
stitution which brings its victims under the tyranny of 
two delirious terrors: the terror of sin and the terror of 
death, which may be called also the terror of sex and the 
terror of life. Now Jesus, with his healthy conscience 
on his higher plane, was free from these terrors. He con- 
sorted freely with sinners, and was never concerned for 
a moment, as far as we know, about whether his conduct 
was sinful or not; so that he has forced us to accept him 
as the man without sin. Even if we reckon his last days 
as the days of his delusion, he none the less gave a 
fairly convincing exhibition of superiority to the fear of 
death. This must have both fascinated and horrified 
Paul, or Saul, as he was first called. The horror accounts 
for his fierce persecution of the Christians. The fascina- 
tion accounts for the strangest of his fancies: the fancy 
for attaching the name of Jesus Christ to the great idea 
which flashed upon him on the road to Damascus, the idea 
that he could not only make a religion of his two terrors, 
but that the movement started by Jesus offered him the 
nucleus for his new Church. It was a monstrous idea; 
and the shocks of it, as he afterwards declared, struck 
him blind for days. He heard Jesus calling to him from 

Preface xcvii 

the clouds, "Why persecute me?" His natural hatred of 
the teacher for whom Sin and Death had no terrors 
turned into a wild personal worship of him which has 
the ghastliness of a beautiful thing seen in a false light. 
The chronicler of the Acts of the Apostles sees nothing 
of the significance of this. The great danger of conver- 
sion in all ages has been that when the religion of the 
high mind is offered to the lower mind, the lower mind, 
feeling its fascination without understanding it, and be- 
ing incapable of rising to it, drags it down to its level by 
degrading it. Years ago I said that the conversion of a 
savage to Christianity is the conversion of Christianity 
to savagery. The conversion of Paul was no conver- 
sion at all: it was Paul who converted the religion that 
had raised one man above sin and death into a religion 
that delivered millions of men so completely into their 
dominion that their own common nature became a horror 
to them, and the religious life became a denial of life. 
Paul had no intention of surrendering either his Judaism 
or his Roman citizenship to the new moral world (as 
Robert Owen called it) of Communism and Jesuism. Just 
as in the XIX century Karl Marx, not content to take 
political economy as he found it, insisted on rebuilding 
it from the bottom upwards in his own way, and thereby 
gave a new lease of life to the errors it was just outgrow- 
ing, so Paul reconstructed the old Salvationism from 
which Jesus had vainly tried to redeem him, and pro- 
duced a fantastic theology which is still the most amazing 
thing of the kind known to us. Being intellectually an 
inveterate Roman Rationalist, always discarding the ir- 
rational real thing for the unreal but ratiocinable postu- 
late, he began by discarding Man as he is, and substituted 
a postulate which he called Adam. And when he was 
asked, as he surely must have been in a world not wholly 
mad, what had become of the natural man, he replied 
"Adam is the natural man." This was confusing to sim- 

xcviii Androcles and the Lion 

pletons, because according to tradition Adam was cer- 
tainly the name of the natural man as created in the 
garden of Eden. It was as if a preacher of our own 
time had described as typically British Frankenstein's 
monster, and called him Smith, and somebody, on de- 
manding what about the man in the street, had been told 
"Smith is the man in the street." The thing happens 
often enough; for indeed the world is full of these Adams 
and Smiths and men in the street and average sensual 
men and economic men and womanly women and what 
not, all of them imaginary Atlases carrying imaginary 
worlds on their unsubstantial shoulders. 

The Eden story provided Adam with a sin : the "orig- 
inal sin" for which we are all damned. Baldly stated, 
this seems ridiculous; nevertheless it corresponds to 
something actually existent not only in Paul's conscious- 
ness but in our own. The original sin was not the eating 
of the forbidden fruit, but the consciousness of sin which 
the fruit produced. The moment Adam and Eve tasted 
the apple they found themselves ashamed of their sexual 
relation, which until then had seemed quite innocent to 
them ; and there is no getting over the hard fact that this 
shame, or state of sin, has persisted to this day, and is 
one of the strongest of our instincts. Thus Paul's pos- 
tulate of Adam as the natural man was pragmatically 
true : it worked. But the weakness of Pragmatism is that 
most theories will work if you put your back into making 
them work, provided they have some point of contact 
with human nature. Hedonism will pass the pragmatic 
test as well as Stoicism. Up to a certain point every 
social principle that is not absolutely idiotic works: 
Autocracy works in Russia and Democracy in America; 
Atheism works in France, Polytheism in India, Monothe- 
ism throughout Islam, and Pragmatism, or No-ism, in 
England. Paul's fantastic conception of the damned 
Adam, represented by Bunyan as a pilgrim with a great 

Preface xcix 

burden of sins on his back, corresponded to the funda- 
mental condition of evolution, which is, that life, includ- 
ing human life, is continually evolving, and must there- 
fore be continually ashamed of itself and its present and 
past. Bunyan's pilgrim wants to get rid of his bundle 
of sins; but he also wants to reach "yonder shining 
light ;" and when at last his bundle falls off him into the 
sepulchre of Christ, his pilgrimage is still unfinished and 
his hardest trials still ahead of him. His conscience re- 
mains uneasy; "original sin" still torments him; and his 
adventure with Giant Despair, who throws him into the 
dungeon of Doubting Castle, from which he escapes by 
the use of a skeleton key, is more terrible thanoany he 
met whilst the bundle was still on his back. Thus Bun- 
yan's allegory of human nature breaks through the 
Pauline theology at a hundred points. His theological 
allegory, The Holy War, with its troops of Election 
Doubters, and its cavalry of "those that rode Reforma- 
does," is, as a whole, absurd, impossible, and, except in 
passages where the artistic old Adam momentarily got 
the better of the Salvationist theologian, hardly readable. 
Paul's theory of original sin was to some extent 
idiosyncratic. He tells us definitely that he finds him- 
self quite well able to avoid the sinfulness of sex by prac- 
tising celibacy ; but he recognizes, rather contemptuously, 
that in this respect he is not as other men are, and says 
that they had better marry than burn, thus admitting that 
though marriage may lead to placing the desire to please 
wife or husband before the desire to please God, yet pre- 
occupation with unsatisfied desire may be even more un- 
godly than preoccupation with domestic affection. This 
view of the case inevitably led him to insist that a wife 
should be rather a slave than a partner, her real function 
being, not to engage a man's love and loyalty, but on the 
contrary to release them for God by relieving the man 
of all preoccupation with sex just as in her capacity of 

c Androcles and the Lion 

housekeeper and cook she relieves his preoccupation with 
hunger by the simple expedient of satisfying his appetite. 
This slavery also justifies itself pragmatically by work- 
ing effectively ; but it has made Paul the eternal enemy of 
Woman. Incidentally it has led to many foolish sur- 
mises about Paul's personal character and circumstances, 
by people so enslaved by sex that a celibate appears to 
them a sort of monster. They forget that not only whole 
priesthoods, official and unofficial, from Paul to Carlyle 
and Ruskin, have defied the tyranny of sex, but immense 
numbers of ordinary citizens of both sexes have, either 
voluntarily or under pressure of circumstances easily 
surmoi^itable, saved their energies for less primitive 

Howbeit, Paul succeeded in stealing the image of 
Christ crucified for the figure-head of his Salvationist 
vessel, with its Adam posing as the natural man, its doc- 
trine of original sin, and its damnation avoidable only 
by faith in the sacrifice of the cross. In fact, no sooner 
had Jesus knocked over the dragon of superstition than 
Paul boldly set it on its legs again in the name of Jesus. 

The Confusion of Christendom. 

Now it is evident that two religions having such con- 
trary effects on mankind should not be confused as they 
are under a common name. There is not one word of Paul- 
ine Christianity in the characteristic utterances of Jesus. 
When Saul watched the clothes of the men who stoned 
Stephen, he was not acting upon beliefs which Paul re- 
nounced. There is no record of Christ's having ever said 
to any man: "Go and sin as much as you like: you can 
put it all on me." He said "Sin no more," and insisted 
that he was putting up the standard of conduct, not de- 
basing it, and that the righteousness of the Christian 
must exceed that of the Scribe and Pharisee. The notion 

Preface ci 

that he was shedding his blood in order that every petty- 
cheat and adulterator and libertine might wallow in it 
and come out whiter than snow, cannot be imputed to him 
on his own authority. "I come as an infallible patent 
medicine for bad consciences" is not one of the sayings 
in the gospels. If Jesus could have been consulted on 
Bunyan's allegory as to that business of the burden of 
sin dropping from the pilgrim's back when he caught 
sight of the cross, we must infer from his teaching that 
he would have told Bunyan in forcible terms that he had 
never made a greater mistake in his life, and that the 
business of a Christ was to make self-satisfied sinners feel 
the burden of their sins and stop committing them in- 
stead of assuring them that they could not help it, as it 
was all Adam's fault, but that it did not matter as long 
as they were credulous and friendly about himself. Even 
when he believed himself to be a god, he did not regard 
himself as a scapegoat. He was to take away the sins 
of the world by good government, by justice and mercy, 
by setting the welfare of little children above the pride of 
princes, by casting all the quackeries and idolatries which 
now usurp and malversate the power of God into what 
our local authorities quaintly call the dust destructor, 
and by riding on the clouds of heaven in glory instead 
of in a thousand-guinea motor car. That was delirious, 
if you like; but it was the delirium of a free soul, not of 
a shamebound one like Paul's. There has really never 
been a more monstrous imposition perpetrated than the 
imposition of the limitations of Paul's soul upon the soul 
of Jesus. 

The Secret of Paul's Success. 

Paul must soon have found that his followers had 
gained peace of mind and victory over death and sin at 
the cost of all moral responsibility; for he did his best 

cii Androcles and the Lion 

to reintroduce it by making good conduct the test of sin- 
cere belief, and insisting that sincere belief was necessary 
to salvation. But as his system was rooted in the plain 
fact that as what he called sin includes sex and is there- 
fore an ineradicable part of human nature (why else 
should Christ have had to atone for the sin of all future 
generations?) it was impossible for him to declare that 
sin, even in its wickedest extremity, could forfeit the 
sinner's salvation if he repented and believed. And to 
this day Pauline Christianity is, and owes its enormous 
vogue to being, a premium on sin. Its consequences have 
had to be held in check by the worldly wise majority 
through a violently anti-Christian system of criminal law 
and stern morality. But of course the main restraint is 
human nature, which has good impulses as well as bad 
ones, and refrains from theft and murder and cruelty, 
even when it is taught that it can commit them all at the 
expense of Christ and go happily to heaven afterwards, 
simply because it does not always want to murder or rob 
or torture. 

It is now easy to understand why the Christianity of 
Jesus failed completely to establish itself politically and 
socially, and was easily suppressed by the police and the 
Church, whilst Paulinism overran the whole western civil- 
ized world, which was at that time the Roman Empire, 
and was adopted by it as its official faith, the old aveng- 
ing gods falling helplessly before the new Redeemer. It 
still retains, as we may see in Africa, its power of bring- 
ing to simple people a message of hope and consolation 
that no other religion offers. But this enchantment is pro- 
duced by its spurious association with the personal charm 
of Jesus, and exists only for untrained minds. In the 
hands of a logical Frenchman like Calvin, pushing it to 
its utmost conclusions, and devising "institutes" for hard- 
headed adult Scots and literal Swiss, it becomes the most 
infernal of fatalisms; and the lives of civilized children 

Preface ciii 

are blighted by its logic whilst negro piccaninnies are re- 
joicing in its legends. 

Paul's Qualities. 

Paul, however, did not get his great reputation by 
mere imposition and reaction. It is only in comparison 
with Jesus (to whom many prefer him) that he appears 
common and conceited. Though in The Acts he is only a 
vulgar revivalist, he comes out in his own epistles as a 
genuine poet, though by flashes only. He is no more a 
Christian than Jesus was a Baptist: he is a disciple of 
Jesus only as Jesus was a disciple of John. He does 
nothing that Jesus would have done, and says nothing 
that Jesus would have said, though much, like the famous 
ode to charity, that he would have admired. He is more 
Jewish than the Jews, more Roman than the Romans, 
proud both ways, full of startling confessions and self- 
revelations that would not surprise us if they were slipped 
into the pages of Nietzsche, tormented by an intellectual 
conscience that demanded an argued case even at the cost 
of sophistry, with all sorts of fine qualities and occasional 
illuminations, but always hopelessly in the toils of Sin, 
Death, and Logic, which had no power over Jesus. As 
we have seen, it was by introducing this bondage and 
terror of his into the Christian doctrine that he adapted 
it to the Church and State systems which Jesus tran- 
scended, and made it practicable by destroying the spe- 
cifically Jesuist side of it. He would have been quite in 
his place in any modern Protestant State; and he, not 
Jesus, is the true head and founder of our Reformed 
Church, as Peter is of the Roman Church. The followers 
of Paul and Peter made Christendom, whilst the Naza- 
renes were wiped out. 

civ Androcles and the Lion 

The Acts of the Apostles. 

Here we may return to the narrative called The Acts of 
the Apostles, which we left at the point where the stoning 
of Stephen was followed by the introduction of Paul. The 
author of The Acts, though a good story-teller, like Luke, 
was (herein also like Luke) much weaker in power of 
thought than in imaginative literary art. Hence we find 
Luke credited with the authorship of The Acts by people 
who like stories and have no aptitude for theology, whilst 
the book itself is denounced as spurious by Pauline theo- 
logians because Paul, and indeed all the apostles, are 
represented in it as very commonplace revivalists, inter- 
esting us by their adventures more than by any qualities 
of mind or character. Indeed, but for the epistles, we 
should have a very poor opinion of the apostles. Paul 
in particular is described as setting a fashion which has 
remained in continual use to this day. Whenever he ad- 
dresses an audience, he dwells with great zest on his mis- 
deeds before his pseudo conversion, with the effect of 
throwing into stronger relief his present state of blessed- 
ness; and he tells the story of that conversion over and 
over again, ending with exhortations to the hearers to 
come and be saved, and threats of the wrath that will 
overtake them if they refuse. At any revival meeting 
today the same thing may be heard, followed by the same 
conversions. This is natural enough; but it is totally 
unlike the preaching of Jesus, who never talked about his 
personal history, and never "worked up" an audience to 
hysteria. It aims at a purely nervous effect; it brings 
no enlightenment; the most ignorant man has only to be- 
come intoxicated with his own vanity, and mistake his 
self-satisfaction for the Holy Ghost, to become qualified 
as an apostle; and it has absolutely nothing to do with 
the characteristic doctrines of Jesus. The Holy Ghost 
may be at work all round producing wonders of art and 

Preface cv 

science, and strengthening men to endure all sorts of 
martyrdoms for the enlargement of knowledge, and the 
enrichment and intensification of life ("that ye may have 
life more abundantly") ; but the apostles, as described in 
The Acts, take no part in the struggle except as persecu- 
tors and revilers. To this day, when their successors get 
the upper hand, as in Geneva (Knox's "perfect city of 
Christ") and in Scotland and Ulster, every spiritual ac- 
tivity but moneymaking and churchgoing is stamped out ; 
heretics are ruthlessly persecuted; and such pleasures as 
money can purchase are suppressed so that its possessors 
are compelled to go on making money because there is 
nothing else to do. And the compensation for all this 
privation is partly an insane conceit of being the elect of 
God, with a reserved seat in heaven, and partly, since 
even the most infatuated idiot cannot spend his life ad- 
miring himself, the less innocent excitement of punish- 
ing other people for not admiring him, and the nosing 
out of the sins of the people who, being intelligent enough 
to be incapable of mere dull self-righteousness, and high- 
ly susceptible to the beauty and interest of the real work- 
ings of the Holy Ghost, try to live more rational and 
abundant lives. The abominable amusement of terrifying 
children with threats of hell is another of these diver- 
sions, and perhaps the vilest and most mischievous of 
them. The net result is that the imitators of the apostles, 
whether they are called Holy Willies or Stigginses in 
derision, or, in admiration, Puritans or saints, are, out- 
side their own congregations, and to a considerable ex- 
tent inside them, heartily detested. Now nobody detests 
.Jesus, though many who have been tormented in their 
childhood in his name include him in their general loath- 
ing of everything connected with the word religion; 
whilst others, who know him only by misrepresentation 
as a sentimental pacifist and an ascetic, include him in 
their general dislike of that type of character. In the 

cvi Androcles and the Lion 

same way a student who has had to "get up" Shakespear 
as a college subject may hate Shakespear; and people 
who dislike the theatre may include Moliere in that dis- 
like without ever having read a line of his or witnessed 
one of his plays; but nobody with any knowledge of 
Shakespear or Moliere could possibly detest them, or 
read without pity and horror a description of their being 
insulted, tortured, and killed. And the same is true of 
Jesus. But it requires the most strenuous effort of con- 
science to refrain from crying "Serve him right" when 
we read of the stoning of Stephen; and nobody has ever 
cared twopence about the martyrdom of Peter: many 
better men have died worse deaths: for example, honest 
Hugh Latimer, who was burned by us, was worth fifty 
Stephens and a dozen Peters. One feels at last that 
when Jesus called Peter from his boat, he spoiled an 
honest fisherman, and made nothing better out of the 
wreck than a salvation monger. 

The Controversies on Baptism and 

Meanwhile the inevitable effect of dropping the pe- 
culiar doctrines of Jesus and going back to John the Bap- 
tist, was to make it much easier to convert Gentiles than 
Jews ; and it was by following the line of least resistance 
that Paul became the apostle to the Gentiles. The Jews 
had their own rite of initiation: the rite of circumcision; 
and they were fiercely jealous for it, because it marked 
them as the chosen people of God, and set them apart 
from the Gentiles, who were simply the uncircumcized. 
When Paul, finding that baptism made way faster among 
the Gentiles than among the Jews, as it enabled them to 
plead that they too were sanctified by a rite of later and 
higher authority than the Mosaic rite, he was compelled 

Preface cvii 

to admit that circumcision did not matter; and this, to 
the Jews, was an intolerable blasphemy. To Gentiles like 
ourselves, a good deal of the Epistle to the Romans is 
now tedious to unreadableness because it consists of a 
hopeless attempt by Paul to evade the conclusion that if 
a man were baptized it did not matter a rap whether he 
was circumcized or not. Paul claims circumcision as an 
excellent thing in its way for a Jew; but if it has no 
efficacy towards salvation, and if salvation is the one 
thing needful — and Paul was committed to both proposi- 
tions — his pleas in mitigation only made the Jews more 
determined to stone him. 

Thus from the very beginning of apostolic Christi- 
anity, it was hampered by a dispute as to whether sal- 
vation was to be attained by a surgical operation or by 
a sprinkling of water: mere rites on which Jesus would 
not have wasted twenty words. Later on, when the new 
sect conquered the Gentile west, where the dispute had 
no practical application, the other ceremony — that of eat- 
ing the god — produced a still more disastrous dispute, in 
which a difference of belief, not as to the obligation to 
perform the ceremony, but as to whether it was a symbolic 
or a real ingestion of divine substance, produced per- 
secution, slaughter, hatred, and everything that Jesus 
loathed, on a monstrous scale. 

But long before that, the superstitions which had fast- 
ened on the new faith made trouble. The partheno- 
genetic birth of Christ, simple enough at first as a pop- 
ular miracle, was not left so simple by the theologians. 
They began to ask of what substance Christ was made in 
the womb of the virgin. When the Trinity was added to 
the faith the question arose, was the virgin the mother of 
God or only the mother of Jesus? Arian schisms and 
Nestorian schisms arose on these questions ; and the lead- 
ers of the resultant agitations rancorously deposed one 
another and excommunicated one another according to 

cviii Androcles and the Lion 

their luck in enlisting the emperors on their side. In 
the IV century they began to burn one another for differ- 
ences of opinion in such matters. In the VIII century 
Charlemagne made Christianity compulsory by killing 
those who refused to embrace it; and though this made 
an end of the voluntary character of conversion, Charle- 
magne may claim to be the first Christian who put men 
to death for any point of doctrine that really mattered. 
From his time onward the history of Christian contro- 
versy reeks with blood and fire, torture and warfare. The 
Crusades, the persecutions in Albi and elsewhere, the In- 
quisition, the "wars of religion" which followed the Ref- 
ormation, all presented themselves as Christian phenom- 
ena; but who can doubt that they would have been re- 
pudiated with horror by Jesus ? Our own notion that the 
massacre of St. Bartholomew's was an outrage on Christi- 
anity, whilst the campaigns of Gustavus Adolphus, and 
even of Frederick the Great, were a defence of it, is as 
absurd as the opposite notion that Frederick was Anti- 
christ and Torquemada and Ignatius Loyola men after 
the very heart of Jesus. Neither they nor their exploits 
had anything to do with him. It is probable that Arch- 
bishop Laud and John Wesley died equally persuaded 
that he in whose name they had made themselves famous 
on earth would receive them in Heaven with open arms. 
Poor Fox the Quaker would have had ten times their 
chance; and yet Fox made rather a miserable business 
of life. 

Nevertheless all these perversions of the doctrine of 
Jesus derived their moral force from his credit, and so 
had to keep his gospel alive. When the Protestants 
translated the Bible into the vernacular and let it loose 
among the people, they did an extremely dangerous thing, 
as the mischief which followed proves; but they inci- 
dentally let loose the sayings of Jesus in open competi- 
tion with the sayings of Paul and Koheleth and David and 

Preface cix 

Solomon and the authors of Job and the Pentateuch ; and, 
as we have seen, Jesus seems to be the winning name. 
The glaring contradiction between his teaching and the 
practice of all the States and all the Churches is no longer 
hidden. And it may be that though nineteen centuries 
have passed since Jesus was born (the date of his birth 
is now quaintly given as 7 b.c, though some contend for 
100 b.c), and though his Church has not yet been found- 
ed nor his political system tried, the bankruptcy of all 
the other systems when audited by our vital statistics, 
which give us a final test for all political systems, is 
driving us hard into accepting him, not as a scapegoat, 
but as one who- was much less of a fool in practical mat- 
ters than we have hitherto all thought him. 

The Alternative Christs. 

Let us now clear up the situation a little. The New 
Testament tells two stories for two different sorts of read- 
ers. One is the old story of the achievement of our sal- 
vation by the sacrifice and atonement of a divine per- 
sonage who was barbarously slain and rose again on the 
third day: the story as it was accepted by the apostles. 
And in this story the political, economic, and moral views 
of the Christ have no importance : the atonement is every- 
thing; and we are saved by our faith in it, and not by 
works or opinions (other than that particular opinion) 
bearing on practical affairs. 

The other is the story of a prophet who, after express- 
ing several very interesting opinions as to practical con- 
duct, both personal and political, which are now of press- 
ing importance, and instructing his disciples to carry 
them out in their daily life, lost his head; believed him- 
self to be a crude legendary form of god ; and under that 
delusion courted and suffered a cruel execution in the be- 
lief that he would rise from the dead and come in glory 

ex Androcles and the Lion 

to reign over a regenerated world. In this form, the 
political, economic and moral opinions of Jesus, as guides 
to conduct, are interesting and important : the rest is mere 
psychopathy and superstition. The accounts of the 
resurrection, the parthenogenetic birth, and the more in- 
credible miracles are rejected as inventions; and such 
episodes as the conversation with the devil are classed 
with similar conversations recorded of St. Dunstan, 
Luther, Bunyan, Swedenborg, and Blake. 

Credulity no Criterion. 

This arbitrary acceptance and rej ection of parts of the 
gospel is not peculiar to the Secularist view. We have 
seen Luke and John reject Matthew's story of the mas- 
sacre of the innocents and the flight into Egypt without 
ceremony. The notion that Matthew's manuscript is a 
literal and infallible record of facts, not subject to the 
errors that beset all earthly chroniclers, would have made 
John stare, being as it is a comparatively modern fancy 
of intellectually untrained people who keep the Bible 
on the same shelf with Napoleon's Book of Fate, Old 
Moore's Almanack, and handbooks of therapeutic herb- 
alism. You may be a fanatical Salvationist and reject 
more miracle stories than Huxley did; and you may. 
utterly repudiate Jesus as the Savior and yet cite him as 
a historical witness to the possession by men of the most 
marvellous thaumaturgical powers. "Christ Scientist" 
and Jesus the Mahatma are preached by people whom 
Peter would have struck dead as worse infidels than 
Simon Magus ; and the Atonement is preached by Baptist 
and Congregationalist ministers whose views of the mir- 
acles are those of Ingersoll and Bradlaugh. Luther, who 
made a clean sweep of all the saints with their million 
miracles, and reduced the Blessed Virgin herself to the 
status of an idol, concentrated Salvationism to a point 

Preface cxi 

at which the most execrable murderer who believes in it 
when the rope is round his neck, flies straight to the arms 
of Jesus, whilst Tom Paine and Shelley fall into the bot- 
tomless pit to burn there to all eternity. And sceptical 
physicists like Sir William Crookes demonstrate by 
laboratory experiments that "mediums" like Dunglas 
Home can make the pointer of a spring-balance go round 
without touching the weight suspended from it. 

Belief in Personal Immortality no 

Nor is belief in individual immortality any criterion. 
Theosophists, rejecting vicarious atonement so sternly 
that they insist that the smallest of our sins brings its 
Karma, also insist on individual immortality and metem- 
psychosis in order to provide an unlimited field for 
Karma to be worked out by the unredeemed sinner. The 
belief in the prolongation of individual life beyond the 
grave is far more real and vivid among table-rapping 
Spiritualists than among conventional Christians. The 
notion that those who rej ect the Christian (or any other) 
scheme of salvation by atonement must reject also belief 
in personal immortality and in miracles is as baseless as 
the notion that if a man is an atheist he will steal your 

I could multiply these instances to weariness. The 
main difference that set Gladstone and Huxley by the 
ears is not one between belief in supernatural persons 
or miraculous events and the sternest view of such belief 
as a breach of intellectual integrity: it is the difference 
between belief in the efficacy of the crucifixion as an in- 
fallible cure for guilt, and a congenital incapacity for 
believing this, or (the same thing) desiring to believe it. 

cxii Androcles and the Lion 

The Secular View Natural, not Rational, 
therefore Inevitable. 

It must therefore be taken as a flat fundamental mod- 
ern fact, whether we like it or not, that whilst many 
of us cannot believe that Jesus got his curious grip of 
our souls by mere sentimentality, neither can we believe 
that he was John Barleycorn. The more our reason and 
study lead us to believe that Jesus was talking the most 
penetrating good sense when he preached Communism; 
when he declared that the reality behind the popular be- 
lief in God was a creative spirit in ourselves, called by 
him the Heavenly Father and by us Evolution, Elan Vital, 
Life Force and other names; when he protested against 
the claims of marriage and the family to appropriate that 
high part of our energy that was meant for the service of 
his Father, the more impossible it becomes for us to 
believe that he was talking equally good sense when he 
so suddenly announced that he was himself a visible con- 
crete God; that his flesh and blood were miraculous food 
for us; that he must be tortured and slain in the tradi- 
tional manner and would rise from the dead after three 
days; and that at his second coming the stars would fall 
from heaven and he become king of an earthly paradise. 
But it is easy and reasonable to believe that an over- 
wrought preacher at last went mad as Swift and Ruskin 
and Nietzsche went mad. Every asylum has in it a pa- 
tient suffering from the delusion that he is a god, yet 
otherwise sane enough. These patients do not nowadays 
declare that they will be barbarously slain and will rise 
from the dead, because they have lost that tradition of 
the destiny of godhead; but they claim everything 
appertaining to divinity that is within their knowledge. 

Thus the gospels as memoirs and suggestive statements 
of sociological and biological doctrine, highly relevant to 

Preface cxiii 

modern civilization, though ending in the history of a 
psycopathic delusion, are quite credible, intelligible, and 
interesting to modern thinkers. In any other light they 
are neither credible, intelligible, nor interesting except 
to people upon whom the delusion imposes. 

"The Higher Criticism." 

Historical research and paleographic criticism will no 
doubt continue their demonstrations that the New Testa- 
ment, like the Old, seldom tells a single story or expounds 
a single doctrine, and gives us often an accretion and con- 
glomeration of widely discrete and even unrelated tradi- 
tions and doctrines. But these disintegrations, though 
technically interesting to scholars, and gratifying or ex- 
asperating, as the case may be, to people who are merely 
defending or attacking the paper fortifications of the 
infallibility of the Bible, have hardly anything to do with 
the purpose of these pages. I have mentioned the fact 
that most of the authorities are now agreed (for the mo- 
ment) that the date of the birth of Jesus may be placed 
at about 7 B.C.; but they do not therefore date their 
letters 1923, nor, I presume, do they expect me to do so. 
What I am engaged in is a criticism (in the Kantian 
sense) of an established body of belief which has become 
an actual part of the mental fabric of my readers; and 
I should be the most exasperating of triflers and pedants 
if I were to digress into a criticism of some other belief 
or no-belief which my readers might conceivably profess 
if they were erudite Scriptural paleographers and his- 
torians, in which case, by the way, they would have to 
change their views so frequently that the gospel they re- 
ceived in their childhood would dominate them after all 
by its superior persistency. The chaos of mere facts in 
which the Sermon on the Mount and the Ode to Charity 
suggest nothing but disputes as to whether they are inter- 

cxiv Androcles and the Lion 

polations or not, in which Jesus becomes nothing but a 
name suspected of belonging to ten different prophets or 
executed persons, in which Paul is only the man who 
could not possibly have written the epistles attributed to 
him, in which Chinese sages, Greek philosophers, Latin 
authors, and writers of ancient anonymous inscriptions 
are thrown at our heads as the sources of this or that 
scrap of the Bible, is neither a religion nor a criticism 
of religion: one does not offer the fact that a good deal 
of the medieval building in Peterborough Cathedral was 
found to be flagrant jerry-building as a criticism of the 
Dean's sermons. For good or evil, we have made a syn- 
thesis out of the literature we call the Bible ; and though 
the discovery that there is a good deal of jerry-building 
in the Bible is interesting in its way, because everything 
about the Bible is interesting, it does not alter the syn- 
thesis very materially even for the paleographers, and 
does not alter it at all for those who know no more about 
modern paleography than Archbishop Ussher did. I have 
therefore indicated little more of the discoveries than 
Archbishop Ussher might have guessed for himself if 
he had read the Bible without prepossessions. 

For the rest, I have taken the synthesis as it really 
lives and works in men. After all, a synthesis is what 
you want: it is the case you have to judge brought to an 
apprehensible issue for you. Even if you have little more 
respect for synthetic biography than for synthetic rubber, 
synthetic milk, and the still unachieved synthetic proto- 
plasm which is to enable us to make different sorts of 
men as a pastry cook makes different sorts of tarts, the 
practical issue still lies as plainly before you as before 
the most credulous votaries of what pontificates as the 
Higher Criticism. 

Preface cxv 

The Perils of Salvationism. 

The secular view of Jesus is powerfully reinforced by 
the increase in our day of the number of people who have 
had the means of educating and training themselves to 
the point at which they are not afraid to look facts in the 
face, even such terrifying facts as sin and death. The 
result is greater sternness in modern thought. The con- 
viction is spreading that to encourage a man to believe 
that though his sins be as scarlet he can be made whiter 
than snow by an easy exercise of self-conceit, is to en- 
courage him to be a rascal. It did not work so badly 
when you could also conscientiously assure him that if he 
let himself be caught napping in the matter of faith by 
death, a red-hot hell would roast him alive to all eternity. 
In those days a sudden death — the most enviable of all 
deaths — was regarded as the most frightful calamity. It 
was classed with plague, pestilence, and famine, battle 
and murder, in our prayers. But belief in that hell is 
fast vanishing. All the leaders of thought have lost it; 
and even for the rank .and file it has fled to those parts 
of Ireland and Scotland which are still in the XVII cen- 
tury. Even there, it is tacitly reserved for the other 

The Importance of Hell in the Salvation 

The seriousness of throwing over hell whilst still cling- 
ing to the Atonement is obvious. If there is no punish- 
ment for sin there can be no self-forgiveness for it. If 
Christ paid our score, and if there is no hell and there- 
fore no chance of our getting into trouble by forgetting 
the obligation, then we can be as wicked as we like with 
impunity inside the secular law, even from self-reproach, 
which becomes mere ingratitude to the Savior. On the 

cxvi Androcles and the Lion 

other hand, if Christ did not pay our score, it still stands 
against us; and such debts make us extremely uncomfor- 
table. The drive of evolution, which we call conscience 
and honor, seizes on such slips, and shames us to the dust 
for being so low in the scale as to be capable of them. 
The "saved" thief experiences an ecstatic happiness 
which can never come to the honest atheist : he is tempted 
to steal again to repeat the glorious sensation. But if 
the atheist steals he has no such happiness. He is a thief 
and knows that he is a thief. Nothing can rub that off 
him. He may try to sooth his shame by some sort of 
restitution or equivalent act of benevolence ; but that does 
not alter the fact that he did steal ; and his conscience will 
not be easy until he has conquered his will to steal and 
changed himself into an honest man by developing that 
divine spark within him which Jesus insisted on as the 
everyday reality of what the atheist denies. 

Now though the state of the believers in the atonement 
may thus be the happier, it is most certainly not more 
desirable from the point of view of the community. The 
fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to 
the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier 
than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap 
and dangerous quality of happiness, and by no means a 
necessity of life. Whether Socrates got as much hap- 
piness out of life as Wesley is an unanswerable question ; 
but a nation of Socrateses would be much safer and hap- 
pier than a nation of Wesleys ; and its individuals would 
be higher in the evolutionary scale. At all events it is in 
the Socratic man and not in the Wesleyan that our hope 
lies now. 

The Right to refuse Atonement. 

Consequently, even if it were mentally possible for all 
of us to believe in the Atonement, we should have to cry 

Preface cxvii 

off it, as we evidently have a right to do. Every man to 
whom salvation is offered has an inalienable natural right 
to say "No, thank you: I prefer to retain my full moral 
responsibility: it is not good for me to be able to load a 
scapegoat with my sins: I should be less careful how I 
committed them if I knew they would cost me nothing." 
Then, too, there is the attitude of Ibsen: that iron mor- 
alist to whom the whole scheme of salvation was only an 
ignoble attempt to cheat God; to get into heaven without 
paying the price. To be let off, to beg for and accept eter- 
nal life as a present instead of earning it, would be mean 
enough even if we accepted the contempt of the Power on 
whose pity we were trading ; but to bargain for a crown of 
glory as well! that was too much for Ibsen: it provoked 
him to exclaim, "Your God is an old man whom you 
cheat," and to lash the deadened conscience of the XIX 
century back to life with a whip of scorpions. 

The Teaching of Christianity. 

And there I must leave the matter to such choice as 
your • nature allows you. The honest teacher who has to 
make known to a novice the facts about Christianity can- 
not in any essential regard, I think, put the facts other- 
wise than as I have put them. If children are to be de- 
livered from the proselytizing atheist on the one hand, 
and the proselytizing nun in the convent school on the 
other, with all the other proselytizers that lie between 
them, they must not be burdened with idle controversies 
as to whether there was ever such a person as Jesus or 
not. When Hume said that Joshua's campaigns were im- 
possible, Whately did not wrangle about it: he proved, 
on the same lines, that the campaigns of Napoleon were 
impossible. Only fictitious characters will stand Hume's 
sort of examination: nothing will ever make Edward the 
Confessor and St. Louis as real to us as Don Quixote and 

cxviii Androcles and the Lion 

Mr. Pickwick. We must cut the controversy short by de- 
claring that there is the same evidence for the existence 
of Jesus as for that of any other person of his time ; and 
the fact that you may not believe everything Matthew 
tells you no more disproves the existence of Jesus than 
the fact that you do not believe everything Macaulay 
tells you disproves the existence of William III. The 
gospel narratives in the main give you a biography which 
is quite credible and accountable on purely secular 
grounds when you have trimmed off everything that 
Hume or Grimm or Rousseau or Huxley or any modern 
bishop could reject as fanciful. Without going further 
than this, you can become a follower of Jesus just as 
you can become a follower of Confucius or Lao Tse, and 
may therefore call yourself a Jesuist, or even a Christian, 
if you hold, as the strictest Secularist quite legitimately 
may, that all prophets are inspired, and all men with a 
mission, Christs. 

The teacher of Christianity has then to make known to 
the child, first the song of John Barleycorn, with the 
fields and seasons as witness to its eternal truth. Then, 
as the child's mind matures, it can learn, as historical and 
psychological phenomena, the tradition of the scapegoat, 
the Redeemer, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the 
Second Coming, and how, in a world saturated with this 
tradition, Jesus has been largely accepted as the long ex- 
pected and often prophesied Redeemer, the Messiah, the 
Christ. It is open to the child also to accept him. If 
the child is built like Gladstone, he will accept Jesus as 
his Savior, and Peter and John the Baptist as the Savior's 
revealer and forerunner respectively. If he is built like 
Huxley, he will take the secular view, in spite of all that 
a pious family can do to prevent him. The important 
thing now is that the Gladstones and Huxleys should no 
longer waste their time irrelevantly and ridiculously 
wrangling about the Gadarene swine, and that they 

Preface cxix 

should make up their minds as to the soundness of the 
secular doctrines of Jesus ; for it is about these that they 
may come to blows in our own time. 

Christianity and The Empire. 

Finally, let us ask why it is that the old superstitions 
have so suddenly lost countenance that although, to the 
utter disgrace of the nation's leaders and rulers, the laws 
by which persecutors can destroy or gag all freedom of 
thought and speech in these matters are still unrepealed 
and ready to the hand of our bigots and fanatics (quite 
recently a respectable shopkeeper was convicted of "blas- 
phemy" for saying that if a modern girl accounted for an 
illicit pregnancy by saying she had conceived of the Holy 
Ghost, we should know what to think: a remark which 
would never have occurred to him had he been properly 
taught how the story was grafted on the gospel), yet 
somehow they are used only against poor men, and that 
only in a half-hearted way. When we consider that from 
the time when the first scholar ventured to whisper as a 
professional secret that the Pentateuch could not pos- 
sibly have been written by Moses to the time within my 
own recollection when Bishop Colenso, for saying the 
same thing openly, was inhibited from preaching and 
actually excommunicated, eight centuries elapsed (the 
point at issue, though technically interesting to pale- 
ographers and historians, having no more bearing on 
human welfare than the controversy as to whether uncial 
or cursive is the older form of writing) ; yet now, within 
fifty years of Colenso's heresy, there is not a Churchman 
of any authority living, or an educated layman, who 
could without ridicule declare that Moses wrote the Pen- 
tateuch as Pascal wrote his Thoughts or D'Aubigny his 
History of the Reformation, or that St. Jerome wrote 
the passage about the three witnesses in the Vulgate, or 

cxx Androcles and the Lion 

that there are less than three different accounts of the 
creation jumbled together in the book of Genesis. Now 
the maddest Progressive will hardly contend that our 
growth in wisdom and liberality has been greater in the 
last half century than in the sixteen half centuries pre- 
ceding: indeed it would be easier to sustain the thesis 
that the last fifty years have witnessed a distinct reaction 
from Victorian Liberalism to Collectivism which has per- 
ceptibly strengthened the State Churches. Yet the fact 
remains that whereas Byron's Cain, published a century 
ago, is a leading case on the point that there is no copy- 
right in a blasphemous book, the Salvation Army might 
now include it among its publications without shocking 

I suggest that the causes which have produced this 
sudden clearing of the air include the transformation of 
many modern States, notably the old self-contained 
French Republic and the tight little Island of Britain, 
into empires which overflow the frontiers of all the 
Churches. In India, for example, there are less than 
four million Christians out of a population of three hun- 
dred and sixteen and a half millions. The King of Eng- 
land is the defender of the faith; but what faith is now 
the faith? The inhabitants of this island would, within 
the memory of persons still living, have claimed that their 
faith is surely the faith of God, and that all others are 
heathen. But we islanders are only forty-five millions; 
and if we count ourselves all as Christians, there are still 
seventy-seven and a quarter million Mahometans in the 
Empire. Add to these the Hindoos and Buddhists, Sikhs 
and Jains, whom I was taught in my childhood, by way 
of religious instruction, to regard as gross idolators con- 
signed to eternal perdition, but whose faith I can now 
be punished for disparaging by a provocative word, and 
you have a total of over three hundred and forty-two and 
a quarter million heretics to swamp our forty-five million 

Preface cxxi 

Britons, of whom, by the way, only six thousand call 
themselves distinctively "disciples of Christ," the rest be- 
ing members of the Church of England and other denom- 
inations whose discipleship is less emphatically affirmed. 
In short, the Englishman of today, instead of being, like 
the forefathers whose ideas he clings to, a subject of a 
State practically wholly Christian, is now crowded, and 
indeed considerably overcrowded, into a corner of an Em- 
pire in which the Christians are a mere eleven per cent 
of the population ; so that the Nonconformist who allows 
his umbrella stand to be sold up rather than pay rates 
towards the support of a Church of England school, finds 
himself paying taxes not only to endow the Church of 
Rome in Malta, but to send Christians to prison for the 
blasphemy of offering Bibles for sale in the streets of 

Turn to France, a country ten times more insular in its 
pre-occupation with its own language, its own history, its 
own character, than we, who have always been explorers 
and colonizers and grumblers. This once self-centred 
nation is forty millions strong. The total population of 
the French Republic is about one hundred and fourteen 
millions. The French are not in our hopeless Christian 
minority of eleven per cent; but they are in a minority of 
thirty-five per cent, which is fairly conclusive. And, 
being a more logical people than we, they have officially 
abandoned Christianity and declared that the French 
State has no specific religion. 

Neither has the British State, though it does not say 
so. No doubt there are many innocent people in Eng- 
land who take Charlemagne's view, and would, as a matter 
of course, offer our eighty-nine per cent of "pagans, I 
regret to say" the alternative of death or Christianity but 
for a vague impression that these lost ones are all being 
converted gradually by the missionaries. But no states- 
man can entertain such ludicrously parochial delusions. 

cxxii Androcles and the Lion 

No English king or French president can possibly govern 
on the assumption that the theology of Peter and Paul, 
Luther and Calvin, has any objective validity, or that the 
Christ is more than the Buddha, or Jehovah more than 
Krishna, or Jesus more or less human than Mahomet or 
Zoroaster or Confucius. He is actually compelled, in so 
far as he makes laws against blasphemy at all, to treat 
all the religions, including Christianity, as blasphemous 
when paraded before people who are not accustomed to 
them and do not want them. And even that is a conces- 
sion to a mischievous intolerance which an empire should 
use its control of education to eradicate. 

On the other hand, Governments cannot really divest 
themselves of religion, or even of dogma. When Jesus 
said that people should not only live but live more abun- 
dantly, he was dogmatizing; and many Pessimist sages, 
including Shakespear, whose hero begged his friend to 
refrain from suicide in the words "Absent thee from 
felicity awhile," would say dogmatizing very pernicious- 
ly. Indeed many preachers and saints declare, some of 
them in the name of Jesus himself, that this world is a 
vale of tears, and that our lives had better be passed in 
sorrow and even in torment, as a preparation for a better 
life to come. Make these sad people comfortable; and 
they baffle you by putting on hair shirts. 

None the less, governments must proceed on dogmatic 
assumptions, whether they call them dogmas or not; and 
they must clearly be assumptions common enough to 
stamp those who reject them as eccentrics or lunatics. 
And the greater and more heterogeneous the population 
the commoner the assumptions must be. A Trappist 
monastery can be conducted on assumptions which would 
in twenty-fours hours provoke the village at its gates to 
insurrection. That is because the monastery selects its 
people ; and if a Trappist does not like it he can leave it. 
But a subject of the British Empire or the French Re- 

Preface cxxiii 

public is not selected; and if he does not like it he must 
lump it ; for emigration is practicable only within narrow 
limits, and seldom provides an effective remedy, all civi- 
lizations being now much alike. 

To anyone capable of comprehending government at 
all it must be evident without argument that the set of 
fundamental assumptions drawn up in the thirty-nine 
articles or in the Westminster Confession are wildly 
impossible as political constitutions for modern empires. 
A personal profession of them by any person disposed 
to take such professions seriously would practically dis- 
qualify him for high imperial office. A Calvinist Viceroy 
of India and a Particular Baptist Secretary of State for 
Foreign Affairs would wreck the empire. The Stuarts 
wrecked even the tight little island which was the nucleus 
of the empire by their Scottish logic and theological 
dogma; and it may be sustained very plausibly that the 
alleged aptitude of the English for self-government, 
which is contradicted by every chapter of their history, 
is really only an incurable inaptitude for theology, and 
indeed for co-ordinated thought in any direction, which 
makes them equally impatient of systematic despotism 
and systematic good government: their history being that 
of a badly governed and accidentally free people (com- 
paratively). Thus our success in colonizing, as far as 
it has not been produced by exterminating the natives, 
has been due to our indifference to the salvation of our 
subjects. Ireland is the exception which proves the 
rule; for Ireland, the standing instance of the inability 
of the English to colonize without extermination of na- 
tives, is also the one country under British rule in which 
the conquerors and colonizers proceeded on the assump- 
tion that their business was to establish Protestantism as 
well as to make money and thereby secure at least the 
lives of the unfortunate inhabitants out of whose labor 
it could be made. At this moment Ulster is refusing to 

cxxiv Androcles and the Lion 

accept fellowcitizenship with the other Irish provinces 
because the south believes in St. Peter and Bossuet, and 
the north in St. Paul and Calvin. Imagine the effect 
of trying to govern India or Egypt from Belfast or from 
the Vatican! 

The position is perhaps graver for France than for 
England, because the sixty-five per cent of French sub- 
jects who are neither French nor Christian nor Mod- 
ernist includes some thirty millions of negroes who are 
susceptible, and indeed highly susceptible, of conversion 
to those Salvationist forms of pseudo-Christianity which 
have produced all the persecutions and religious wars of 
the last fifteen hundred years. When the late explorer 
Sir Henry Stanley told me of the emotional grip which 
Christianity had over the Baganda tribes, and read me 
their letters, which were exactly like medieval letters in 
their literal faith and everpresent piety, I said "Can 
these men handle a rifle?" To which Stanley replied 
with some scorn "Of course they can, as well as any 
white man." Now at this moment (1915) a vast Euro- 
pean war is being waged, in which the French are using 
Senegalese soldiers. I ask the French Government, 
which, like our own Government, is deliberately leaving 
the religious instruction of these negroes in the hands of 
missions of Petrine Catholics and Pauline Calvinists, 
whether they have considered the possibility of a new 
series of crusades, by ardent African Salvationists, to 
rescue Paris from the grip of the modern scientific "in- 
fidel," and to raise the cry of "Back to the Apostles: 
back to Charlemagne!" 

We are more fortunate in that an overwhelming ma- 
jority of our subjects are Hindoos, Mahometans and 
Buddhists: that is, they have, as a prophylactic against 
Salvationist Christianity, highly civilized religions of 
their own. Mahometanism, which Napoleon at the end 
of his career classed as perhaps the best popular religion 

Preface cxxv 

for modern political use, might in some respects have 
arisen as a reformed Christianity if Mahomet had had 
to deal with a population of seventeenth-century Chris- 
tians instead of Arabs who worshipped stones. As it is, 
men do not reject Mahomet for Calvin; and to offer a 
Hindoo so crude a theology as ours in exchange for his 
own, or our Jewish canonical literature as an improve- 
ment on Hindoo scripture, is to offer old lamps for older 
ones in a market where the oldest lamps, like old furni- 
ture in England, are the most highly valued. 

Yet, I repeat, government is impossible without a re- 
ligion: that is, without a body of common assumptions. 
The open mind never acts: when we have done our ut- 
most to arrive at a reasonable conclusion, we still, when 
we can reason and investigate no more, must close our 
minds for the moment with a snap, and act dogmatically 
on our conclusions. The man who waits to make an en- 
tirely reasonable will dies intestate. A man so reasonable 
as to have an open mind about theft and murder, or about 
the need for food and reproduction, might just as well be 
a fool and a scoundrel for any use he could be as a legis- 
lator or a State official. The modern pseudo-democratic 
statesman, who says that he is only in power to carry out 
the will of the people, and moves only as the cat jumps, 
is clearly a political and intellectual brigand. The rule of 
the negative man who has no convictions means in prac- 
tice the rule of the positive mob. Freedom of conscience 
as Cromwell used the phrase is an excellent thing; never- 
theless if any man had proposed to give effect to freedom 
of conscience as to cannibalism in England, Cromwell 
would have laid him by the heels almost as promptly as 
he would have laid a Roman Catholic, though in Fiji at 
the same moment he would have supported heartily the 
freedom of conscience of a vegetarian who disparaged the 
sacred diet of Long Pig. 

Here then come in the importance of the repudiation 

cxxvi Androcles and the Lion 

by Jesus of proselytism. His rule "Dont pull up the 
tares: sow the wheat: if you try to pull up the tares you 
will pull up the wheat with it" is the only possible rule 
for a statesman governing a modern empire, or a voter 
supporting such a statesman. There is nothing in the 
teaching of Jesus that cannot be assented to by a Brah- 
man, a Mahometan, a Buddhist or a Jew, without any 
question of their conversion to Christianity. In some 
ways it is easier to reconcile a Mahometan to Jesus than 
a British parson, because the idea of a professional priest 
is unfamiliar and even monstrous to a Mahometan (the 
tourist who persists in asking who is the dean of St. 
Sophia puzzles beyond words the sacristan who lends 
him a huge pair of slippers) ; and Jesus never sug- 
gested that his disciples should separate themselves from 
the laity: he picked them up by the wayside, where any 
man or woman might follow him. For priests he had not 
a civil word; and they shewed their sense of his hostility 
by getting him killed as soon as possible. He was, in 
short, a thoroughgoing anti-Clerical. And though, as we 
have seen, it is only by political means that his doctrine 
can be put into practice, he not only never suggested a 
sectarian theocracy as a form of Government, and would 
certainly have prophesied the downfall of the late Presi- 
dent Kruger if he had survived to his time, but, when 
challenged, he refused to teach his disciples not to pay 
tribute to Caesar, admitting that Caesar, who presumably 
had the kingdom of heaven within him as much as any 
disciple, had his place in the scheme of things. Indeed 
the apostles made this an excuse for carrying subser- 
vience to the State to a pitch of idolatry that ended in 
the theory of the divine right of kings, and provoked men 
to cut kings' heads off to restore some sense* of propor- 
tion in the matter. Jesus certainly did not consider the 
overthrow of the Roman empire or the substitution of a 
new ecclesiastical organization for the Jewish Church 

Preface cxxvii 

or for the priesthood of the Roman gods as part of his 
program. He said that God was better than Mammon; 
but he never said that Tweedledum was better than Twee- 
dledee; and that is why it is now possible for British 
citizens and statesmen to follow Jesus^ though they can- 
not possibly follow either Tweedledum or Tweedledee 
without bringing the empire down with a crash on their 
heads. And at that I must leave it. 

London, December 1915. 




Overture; forest sounds, roaring of lions, Christian 
hymn faintly. 

A jungle path. A lion's roar, a melancholy suffering 
roar, comes from the jungle. It is repeated nearer. The 
lion limps from the jungle on three legs, holding up his 
right forepaw, in which a huge thorn sticks. He sits 
down and contemplates it. He licks it. He shakes it. 
He tries to extract it by scraping it along the ground, 
and hurts himself worse. He roars piteously. He licks 
it again. Tears drop from his eyes. He limps painfully 
off the path and lies down under the trees, exhausted 
with pain. Heaving a long sigh, like wind in a trombone, 
he goes to sleep. 

Androcles and his wife Megaera come along the path. 
He is a small, thin, ridiculous little man who might be 
any age from thirty to fifty-five. He has sandy hair, 
watery compassionate blue eyes, sensitive nostrils, and a 
very presentable forehead; but his good points go no 
further: his arms and legs and back, though wiry of their 
kind, look shrivelled and starved. He carries a big bun- 
dle, is very poorly clad, and seems tired and hungry. 

His wife is a rather handsome pampered slattern, well 
fed and in the prime of life. She has nothing to carry, 
and has a stout stick to help her along. 

Megaera {suddenly throwing down her stick) I 
wont go another step. 

Androcles (pleading wearily) Oh, not again, dear. 


4 Androcles and the Lion Prologue 

whats the good of stopping every two miles and saying 
you wont go another step? We must get on to the next 
village before night. There are wild beasts in this 
wood: lions, they say. 

Megaera. I dont believe a word of it. You are 
always threatening me with wild beasts to make me walk 
the very soul out of my body when I can hardly drag 
one foot before another. We havnt seen a single lion 

Androcles. Well, dear, do you want to see one? 

Megaera (tearing the bundle from his back) You 
cruel beast, you dont care how tired I am, or what be- 
comes of me (she throws the bundle on the ground) : al- 
ways thinking of yourself. Self! self! self! always 
yourself! (She sits down on the bundle). 

Androcles (sitting down sadly on the ground with his 
elbows on his knees and his head in his hands) We all 
have to think of ourselves occasionally, dear. 

Megaera. A man ought to think of his wife some- 

Androcles. He cant always help it, dear. You 
make me think of you a good deal. Not that I blame 

Megaera. Blame me! I should think not indeed. 
Is it my fault that I'm married to you? 

Androcles. No, dear: that is my fault. 

Megaera. Thats a nice thing to say to me. Arnt 
you happy with me? 

Androcles. I dont complain, my love. 

Megaera. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. 

Androcles. I am, my dear. 

Megaera. Youre not: you glory in it. 

Androcles. In what, darling? 

Megaera. In everything. In making me a slave, 
and making yourself a laughing-stock. Its not fair. 
You get me the name of being a shrew with your meek 

Prologue Androcles and the Lion 5 

ways, always talking as if butter wouldnt melt in your 
mouth. And just because I look a big strong woman, 
and because I'm good-hearted and a bit hasty, and be- 
cause youre always driving me to do things I'm sorry 
for afterwards, people say " Poor man : what a life his 
wife leads him ! " Oh, if they only knew ! And you 
think I dont know. But I do, I do, (screaming) I do. 

Androcles. Yes, my dear: I know you do. 

Megaera. Then why dont you treat me properly and 
be a good husband to me? 

Androcles. What can I do, my dear? 

Megaera. What can you do ! You can return to your 
duty, and come back to your home and your friends, and 
sacrifice to the gods as all respectable people do, instead 
of having us hunted out of house and home for being 
dirty, disreputable, blaspheming atheists. 

Androcles. I'm not an atheist, dear: I am a Chris- 

Megaera. Well, isnt that the same thing, only ten 
times worse? Everybody knows that the Christians are 
the very lowest of the low. 

Androcles. Just like us, dear. 

Megaera. Speak for yourself. Dont you dare to 
compare me to common people. My father owned his 
own public-house; and sorrowful was the day for me 
when you first came drinking in our bar. 

Androcles. I confess I was addicted to it, dear. But 
I gave it up when I became a Christian. 

Megaera. Youd much better have remained a drunk- 
ard. I can forgive a man being addicted to drink: its 
only natural; and I dont deny I like a drop myself 
sometimes. What I cant stand is your being addicted 
to Christianity. And whats worse again, your being 
addicted to animals. How is any woman to keep her 
house clean when you bring in every stray cat and lost 
cur and lame duck in the whole countryside? You took 

6 Androcles and the Lion Prologue 

the bread out of my mouth to feed them: you know you 
did : dont attempt to deny it. 

Androcles. Only when they were hungry and you 
were getting too stout, dearie. 

Megaera. Yes, insult me, do. (Rising) Oh! I wont 
bear it another moment. You used to sit and talk to 
those dumb brute beasts for hours, when you hadnt a 
word for me. 

Androcles They never answered back, darling. (He 
rises and again shoulders the bundle). 

Megaera. Well, if youre fonder of animals than of 
your own wife, you can live with them here in the jungle. 
Ive had enough of them and enough of you. I'm going 
back. I'm going home. 

Androcles (barring the way back) No, dearie: dont 
take on like that. We cant go back. Weve sold every- 
thing: we should starve; and I should be sent to Rome 
and thrown to the lions — 

Megaera. Serve you right! I wish the lions joy of 
you. (Screaming) Are you going to get out of my way 
and let me go home? 

Androcles. No, dear — 

Megaera. Then 111 make my way through the forest ; 
and when I'm eaten by the wild beasts youll know what 
a wife youve lost. (She dashes into the jungle and nearly 
falls over the sleeping lion). Oh! Oh! Andy! Andy! 
(She totters bach and collapses into the arms of An- 
drocles, who crushed by her weight, falls on his bundle). 

Androcles (extracting himself from beneath her and 
slapping her hands in great anxiety) What is it, my 
precious, my pet? Whats the matter? (He raises her 
head. Speechless with terror, she points in the direc- 
tion of the sleeping lion. He steals cautiously towards 
the spot indicated by Megaera. She rises with an effort 
and totters after him). 

Megaera. No, Andy: youll be killed. Come back. 


Prologue Androcles and the Lion 7 

The lion utters a long snoring sign, Androcles sees 
the lion and recoils fainting into the arms of Megaera, 
who falls back on the bundle. They roll apart and lie 
staring in terror at one another. The lion is heard groan- 
ing heavily in the jungle. 

Androcles (whispering) Did you see? A lion. 

Megaera (despairing) The gods have sent him to 
punish us because youre a Christian. Take me away, 
Andy. Save me. 

Androcles (rising) Meggy: theres one chance for 
you. Itll take him pretty nigh twenty minutes to eat 
me (I'm rather stringy and tough) and you can escape 
in less time than that. 

Megaera. Oh, dont talk about eating. (The lion 
rises with a great groan and limps towards them). Oh! 
(She faints). 

Androcles (quaking, but keeping between the lion 
and Megaera) Dont you come near my wife, do you 
hear? (The lion groans. Androcles can hardly stand 
for trembling). Meggy: run. Run for your life. If 
I take my eye off him, its all up. (The lion holds up 
his wounded paw and flaps it piteously before Andro- 
cles). Oh, hes lame, poor old chap! Hes got a thorn 
in his paw. A frightfully big thorn. (Full of sym- 
pathy) Oh, poor old man! Did um get an awful thorn 
into urn's tootsums wootsums ? Has it made um too sick 
to eat a nice little Christian man for urn's breakfast? 
Oh, a nice little Christian man will get urn's thorn out 
for um; and then um shall eat the nice Christian man 
and the nice Christian man's nice big tender wifey pifey. 
(The lion responds by moans of self-pity). Yes, yes, 
yes, yes, yes. Now, now (taking the paw in his hand) 
um is not to bite and not to scratch, not even if it hurts 
a very, very little. Now make velvet paws. That right. 
(He pulls gingerly at the thorn. The lion, with an 
angry yell of pain, jerks back his paw so abruptly that 


8 Androcles and the Lion Prologue 

Androcles is thrown on his back). Steadeee! Oh, did the 
nasty cruel little Christian man hurt the sore paw? (The 
lion moans assentingly but apologetically). Well/ one 
more little pull and it will be all over. Just one little, 
little, leetle pull; and then um will live happily ever 
after. (He gives the thorn another pull. The lion 
roars and snaps his jaws with a terrifying clash). Oh, 
mustnt frighten urn's good kind doctor, urn's affectionate 
nursey. That didnt hurt at all : not a bit. Just one more. 
Just to shew how the brave big lion can bear pain, not 
like the little crybaby Christian man. Oopsh! (The 
thorn comes out. The lion yells with pain, and shakes 
his paw wildly). Thats it! (Holding up the thorn). 
Now its out. Now lick urn's paw to take away the nasty 
T) inflammation. See ? I (He licks his own hand. The lion 
\nods intelligently and licks his paw industriously). 
Clever little liony-piony! Understands urn's dear old 
friend Andy Wandy. (The lion licks his face). Yes, 
kissums Andy Wandy. (The lion, wagging his tail vio- 
lently, rises on his hind legs and embraces Androcles, 
who makes a wry face and cries) Velvet paws ! Velvet 
paws! (The lion draws in his claws). Thats right. (He 
embraces the lion, who finally takes the end of his tail 
in one paw, places that tight around Androcles 9 waist, 
resting it on his hip. Androcles takes the other paw in 
his hand, stretches out his arm, and the two waltz raptur- 
ously round and round and finally away through the 

Megaera (who has revived during the waltz) Oh, 
you coward, you havnt danced with me for years; and 
now you go off dancing with a great brute beast that 
you havnt known for ten minutes and that wants to eat 
your own wife. Coward ! Coward ! Coward ! (She ruhes 
off after them into the jungle). 


Evening. The end of three converging roads to Rome. 
Three triumphal arches span them where they debouch 
on a square at the gate of the city. Looking north 
through the arches one can see the campagna threaded 
by the three long dusty tracks. On the east and west 
sides of the square are long stone benches. An old beg- 
gar sits on the east side of the square, his bowl at his feet. 

Through the eastern arch a squad of Roman soldiers 
tramps along escorting a batch of Christian prisoners of 
both sexes and all ages, among them one Lavinia, a good- 
looking resolute young woman, apparently of higher 
social standing than her fellow-prisoners. A centurion, 
carrying his vinewood cudgel, trudges alongside the 
squad, on its right, in command of it. All are tired and 
dusty; but the soldiers are dogged and indifferent, the 
Christians light-hearted and determined to treat their 
hardships as a joke and encourage one another. 

A bugle is heard far behind on the road, where the rest 
of the cohort is following. 

Centurion (stopping) Halt! Orders from the Cap- 
tain. (They halt and wait). Now then, you Christians, 
none of your larks. The captain's coming. Mind you 
behave yourselves. No singing. Look respectful. Look 
serious, if youre capable of it. See that big building 
over there? That's the Coliseum. That's where youll 
be thrown to the lions or set to fight the gladiators pres- 
ently. Think of that; and itll help you to behave prop- 
erly before the captain. (The Captain arrives). At- 
tention! Salute! (The soldiers salute). 


10 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

A Christian {cheerfully) God bless you, Captain. 

The Centurion (scandalized) Silence! 

The Captain, a 'patrician, handsome, about thirty-five, 
very cold and distinguished, very superior and authori- 
tative, steps up on a stone seat at the west side of the 
square, behind the centurion, so as to dominate the others 
more effectually. 

The Captain. Centurion. 

The Centurion (standing at attention and saluting) 

The Captain (speaking stiffly and officially) You 
will remind your men, Centurion, that we are now enter- 
ing Rome. You will instruct them that once inside the 
gates of Rome they are in the presence of the Emperor. 
You will make them understand that the lax discipline 
of the march cannot be permitted here. You will in- 
struct them to shave every day, not every week. You 
will impress on them particularly that there must be an 
end to the profanity and blasphemy of singing Christian 
hymns on the march. I have to reprimand you, Cen- 
turion, for not only allowing this, but actually doing it 

The Centurion (apologetic) The men march bet- 
ter, Captain. 

The Captain. No doubt. For that reason an excep- 
tion is made in the case of the march called Onward 
Christian Soldiers. This may be sung, except when 
marching through the forum or within hearing of the 
Emperor's palace; but the words must be altered to 
"Throw them to the Lions." 

The Christians burst into shrieks of uncontrollable 
laughter, to the great scandal of the Centurion. 

Centurion. Silence! Silen-n-n-n-nce ! Wheres your 
behavior? Is that the way to listen to an officer? (To 
the Captain) Thats what we have to put up with from 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 11 

these Christians every day, sir. Theyre always laugh- 
ing and joking something scandalous. Theyve no re- 
ligion : thats how it is. 

Lavinia. But I think the Captain meant us to laugh, 
Centurion. It was so funny. 

Centurion. Youll find out how funny it is when 
youre thrown to the lions to-morrow. (To the Captain, 
who looks displeased) Beg pardon, Sir. (To the 
Christians) Silennnnce ! 

The Captain. You are to instruct your men that all 
intimacy with Christian prisoners must now cease. The 
men have fallen into habits of dependence upon the pris- 
oners, especially the female prisoners, for cooking, re- 
pairs to uniforms, writing letters, and advice in their 
private affairs. In a Roman soldier such dependence is 
inadmissible. Let me see no more of it whilst we are 
in the city. Further, your orders are that in addressing 
Christian prisoners, the manners and tone of your men 
must express abhorrence and contempt. Any shortcom- 
ing in this respect will be regarded as a breach of dis- 
cipline. (He turns to the prisoners) Prisoners. 

Centurion (fiercely) Prisonerrrrrs ! Tention ! Si- 
lence ! 

The Captain. I call your attention, prisoners, to the 
fact that you may be called on to appear in the Imperial 
Circus at any time from tomorrow onwards according to 
the requirements of the managers. I may inform you 
that as there is a shortage of Christians just now, you 
may expect to be called on very soon. 

Lavinia. What will they do to us, Captain ? 

Centurion. Silence ! 

The Captain. The women will be conducted into the 
arena with the wild beasts of the Imperial Menagerie, 
and will suffer the consequences. The men, if of an age 
to bear arms, will be given weapons to defend themselves, 
if they choose, against the Imperial Gladiators. 

12 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

Lavinia. Captain: is there no hope that this cruel 
persecution — 

Centurion (shocked) Silence! Hold your tongue, 
there. Persecution, indeed! 

The Captain (unmoved and somewhat sardonic) Per- 
secution is not a term applicable to the acts of the Em- 
peror. The Emperor is the Defender of the Faith. In 
throwing you to the lions he will be upholding the in- 
terests of religion in Rome. If you were to throw him 
to the lions, that would no doubt be persecution. 

The Christians again laugh heartily. 

Centurion (horrified) Silence, I tell you! Keep 
silence there. Did anyone ever hear the like of this? 

Lavinia. Captain : there will be nobody to appreciate 
your jokes when we are gone. 

The Captain (unshaken in his official delivery) I call 
the attention of the female prisoner Lavinia to the fact 
that as the Emperor is a divine personage, her imputation 
of cruelty is not only treason, but sacrilege. I point out 
to her further that there is no foundation for the charge, 
as the Emperor does not desire that any prisoner should 
suffer; nor can any Christian be harmed save through 
his or her own obstinacy. All that is necessary is to 
sacrifice to the gods: a simple and convenient ceremony 
effected by dropping a pinch of incense on the altar, 
after which the prisoner is at once set free. Under such 
circumstances you have only your own perverse folly to 
blame if you suffer. I suggest to you that if you cannot 
burn a morsel of incense as a matter of conviction, you 
might at least do so as a matter of good taste, to avoid 
shocking the religious convictions of your fellow citizens. 
I am aware that these considerations do not weigh with 
Christians; but it is my duty to call your attention to 
them in order that you may have no ground for complain- 
ing of your treatment, or of accusing the Emperor of 
cruelty when he is shewing you the most signal clemency. 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 13 

Looked at from this point of view, every Christian who 
has perished in the arena has really committed suicide. 

Lavinia. Captain: your jokes are too grim. Do not 
think it is easy for us to die. Our faith makes life far 
stronger and more wonderful in us than when we walked 
in darkness and had nothing to live for. Death is harder 
for us than for you : the martyr's agony is as bitter as his 
triumph is glorious. 

The Captain (rather troubled, addressing her per- 
sonally and gravely) A martyr, Lavinia, is a fool. Your 
death will prove nothing. 

Lavinia. Then why kill me? 

The Captain. I mean that truth, if there be any 
truth, needs no martyrs. 

Lavinia. No; but my faith, like your sword, needs 
testing. Can you test your sword except by staking your 
life on it? 

The Captain (suddenly resuming his official tone) I 
call the attention of the female prisoner to the fact that 
Christians are not allowed to draw the Emperor's officers 
into arguments and put questions to them for which the 
military regulations provide no answer. (The Christians 
titter) . 

Lavinia. Captain : how can you ? 

The Captain. I call the female prisoner's attention 
specially to the fact that four comfortable homes have 
been offered her by officers of this regiment, of which she 
can have her choice the moment she chooses to sacrifice 
as all well-bred Roman ladies do. I have no more to say 
to the prisoners. 

Centurion. Dismiss ! But stay where you are. 

The Captain. Centurion: you will remain here with 
your men in charge of the prisoners until the arrival of 
three Christian prisoners in the custody of a cohort of the 
tenth legion. Among these prisoners you will particu- 
larly identify an armorer named Ferrovius, of dangerous 

14 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

character and great personal strength, and a Greek tailor 
reputed to be a sorcerer, by name Androcles. You will 
add the three to your charge here and march them all 
to the Coliseum, where you will deliver them into the 
custody of the master of the gladiators and take his re- 
ceipt, countersigned by the keeper of the beasts and the 
acting manager. You understand your instructions? 

Centurion. Yes, sir. 

The Captain. Dismiss. {He throws off his air of 
parade, and descends down from the perch. The Cen- 
turion seats on it and prepares for a nap, whilst his men 
stand at ease. The Christians sit down on the west side 
of the square, glad to rest. Lavinia alone remains stand- 
ing to speak to the Captain). 

Lavinia. Captain: is this man who is to join us the 
famous Ferrovius, who has made such wonderful conver- 
sions in the northern cities ? 

The Captain. Yes. We are warned that he has the 
strength of an elephant and the temper of a mad bull. 
Also that he is stark mad. Not a model Christian, it 
would seem. 

Lavinia. You need not fear him if he is a Christian, 

The Captain {coldly) I shall not fear him in any 
case, Lavinia. 

Lavinia {her eyes dancing) How brave of you, 
Captain ! 

The Captain. You are right : it was silly thing to say. 
{In a lower tone, humane and urgent) Lavinia: do 
Christians know how to love? 

Lavinia {composedly) Yes, Captain: they love even 
their enemies. 

The Captain. Is that easy ? 

Lavinia. Very easy, Captain, when their enemies are 
as handsome as you. 

The Captain. Lavinia : you are laughing at me. 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 15 

Lavinia. At you, Captain! Impossible. 

The Captain. Then you are flirting with me, which 
is worse. Don't be foolish. 

Lavinia. But such a very handsome captain. 

The Captain. Incorrigible! (Urgently) Listen to 
me. The men in that audience tomorrow will be the 
vilest of voluptuaries : men in whom the only passion ex- 
cited by a beautiful woman is a lust to see her tortured 
and torn shrieking limb from limb. It is a crime to 
gratify that passion. It is offering yourself for viola- 
tion by the whole rabble of the streets and the riff-raff 
of the court at the same time. Why will you not choose 
rather a kindly love and an honorable alliance? 

Lavinia. They cannot violate my soul. I alone can 
do that by sacrificing to false gods. 

The Captain. Sacrifice then to the true God. What 
does his name matter ? We call him Jupiter. The Greeks 
call him Zeus. Call him what you will as you drop the 
incense on the altar flame: He will understand. 

Lavinia. No. I couldnt. That is the strange thing, 
Captain, that a little pinch of incense should make all 
that difference. Religion is such a great thing that when 
I meet really religious people we are friends at once, no 
matter what name we give to the divine will that made 
us and moves us. Oh, do you think that I, a woman, 
would quarrel with you for sacrificing to a woman god 
like Diana, if Diana meant to you what Christ, means to 
me? No: we should kneel side by side before her altar 
like two children. But when men who believe neither in 
my god nor in their own — men who do not know the 
meaning of the word religion — when these men drag me 
to the foot of an iron statue that has become the symbol 
of the terror and darkness through which they walk, of 
their cruelty and greed, of their hatred of God and their 
oppression of man — when they ask me to pledge my soul 
before the people that this hideous idol is God, and that 

16 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

all this wickedness and falsehood is divine truth, I can- 
not do it, not if they could put a thousand cruel deaths 
on me. I tell you, it is physically impossible. Listen, 
Captain : did you ever try to catch a mouse in your hand ? 
Once there was a dear little mouse that used to come out 
and play on my table as I was reading. I wanted to 
take him in my hand and caress him; and sometimes he 
got among my books so that he could not escape me when 
I stretched out my hand. And I did stretch out my 
hand; but it always came back in spite of me. I was 
not afraid of him in my heart; but my hand refused: it 
is not in the nature of my hand to touch a mouse. Well, 
Captain, if I took a pinch of incense in my hand and 
stretched it out over the altar fire, my hand would come 
back. My body would be true to my faith even if you 
could corrupt my mind. And all the time I should be- 
lieve more in Diana than my persecutors have ever be- 
lieved in anything. Can you understand that? 

The Captain (simply) Yes: I understand that. But 
my hand would not come back. The hand that holds the 
sword has been trained not to come back from anything 
but victory. 

Lavinia. Not even from death? 

The Captain. Least of all from death. 

Lavinia. Then I must not come back from death 
either. A woman has to be braver than a soldier. 

The Captain. Prouder, you mean. 

Lavinia (startled) Prouder! You call our courage 
pride ! 

The Captain. There is no such thing as courage: 
there is only pride. You Christians are the proudest 
devils on earth. 

Lavinia (hurt) Pray God then my pride may never 
become a false pride. (She turns away as if she did not 
wish to continue the conversation, but softens and says 
to him with a smile) Thank you for trying to save me. 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 17 

The Captain. I knew it was no use; but one tries in 
spite of one's knowledge. 

Lavinia. Something stirs, even in the iron breast of 
a Roman soldier! 

The Captain. It will soon be iron again. I have seen 
many women die, and forgotten them in a week. 

Lavinia. Remember me for a fortnight, handsome 
Captain. I shall be watching you, perhaps. 

The Captain. From the skies ? Do not deceive your- 
self, Lavinia. There is no future for you beyond the 

Lavinia. What does that matter? Do you think I 
am only running away from the terrors of life into the 
comfort of heaven? If there were no future, or if the 
future were one of torment, I should have to go just the 
same. The hand of God is upon me. 

The Captain. Yes : when all is said, we are both patri- 
cians, Lavinia, and must die for our beliefs. Farewell. 
(He offers her his hand. She takes it and presses it. He 
walks away, trim and calm. She looks after him for a 
moment, and cries a little as he disappears through the 
eastern arch. A trumpet-call is heard from the road 
through the western arch). 

Centurion (waking up and rising) Cohort of the 
tenth with prisoners. Two file out with me to receive 
them. (He goes out through the western arch, followed 
by four soldiers in two files). 

Lentulus and Metellus come into the square from the 
west side with a little retinue of servants. Both are 
young courtiers, dressed in the extremity of fashion. 
Lentulus is slender, fair-haired, epicene. Metellus is 
manly, compactly built, olive skinned, not a talker. 

Lentulus. Christians, by Jove ! Lets chaff them. 

Metellus. Awful brutes. If you knew as much 
about them as I do you wouldnt want to chaff them. 
Leave them to the lions. 

18 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

Lentulus {indicating Lavinia, who is still looking 
towards the arches after the captain). That woman's got 
a figure. (He walks past her, staring at her invitingly ; 
but she is preoccupied and is not conscious of him). Do 
you turn the other cheek when they kiss you? 

Lavinia (starting) What? 

Lentulus. Do you turn the other cheek when they 
kiss you, fascinating Christian? 

Lavinia. Don't be foolish. (To Metellus, who has 
remained on her right, so that she is between them) 
Please dont let your friend behave like a cad before the 
soldiers. How are they to respect and obey patricians if 
they see them behaving like street boys? (Sharply to 
Lentulus) Pull yourself together, man. Hold your 
head up. Keep the corners of your mouth firm; and 
treat me respectfully. What do you take me for ? 

Lentulus (irresolutely) Look here, you know: I — 
you — I — 

Lavinia. Stuff ! Go about your business. (She turns 
decisively away and sits down with her comrades, leav- 
ing him disconcerted). 

Metellus. You didnt get much out of that. I told 
you they were brutes. 

Lentulus. Plucky little filly ! I suppose she thinks 
I care. (With an air of indifference he strolls with Len- '''' 
tulus to the east side of the square, where they stand 
watching the return of the Centurion through the western 
arch with his men, escorting three prisoners: Ferrovius, 
Androcles, and Spintho. Ferrovius is a powerful, choleric 
man in the prime of life, with large nostrils, staring eyes, 
and a thick neck: a man whose sensibilities are keen and 
violent to the verge of madness. Spintho is a debauchee, 
the wreck of a good-looking man gone hopelessly to the 
bad. Androcles is overwhelmed with grief, and is re- 
straining his tears with great difficulty). 

The Centurion (to Lavinia) Here are some pals 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 19 

for you. This little bit is Ferrovius that you talk so 
much about. (Ferrovius turns on him threateningly. 
The Centurion holds up his left forefinger in admoni- 
tion). Now remember that youre a Christian, and that 
you've got to return good for evil. (Ferrovius controls 
himself convulsively ; moves away from temptation to the 
east side near Lentulusj clasps his hands in silent prayer; 
and throws himself on his knees). Thats the way to 
manage them, eh! This fine fellow (indicating Andro- 
cles, who comes to his left, and makes Lavinia a heart- 
broken salutation) is a sorcerer. A Greek tailor, he is. 
A real sorcerer, too: no mistake about it. The tenth 
marches with a leopard at the head of the column. He 
made a pet of the leopard ; and now he's crying at being 
parted from it. (Androcles sniffs lamentably). Aint 
you, old chap? Well, cheer up, we march with a Billy 
goat (Androcles brightens up) thats killed two leopards 
and ate a turkey-cock. You can have him for a pet if 
you like. (Androcles, quite consoled, goes past the Cen- 
turion to Lavinia, and sits down contentedly on the 
ground on her left). This dirty dog (collaring Spintho) 
is a real Christian. He mobs the temples, he does (at 
each accusation he gives the neck of Spintho's tunic a 
twist) ; he goes smashing things mad drunk, he does ; he 
steals the gold vessels, he does; he assaults the priest- 
esses, he does — yah ! (He flings Spintho into the middle 
of the group of prisoners). Youre the sort that makes 
duty a pleasure, you are. 

Spintho (gasping) Thats it: strangle me. Kick 
me. Beat me. Revile me. Our Lord was beaten and 
reviled. Thats my way to heaven. Every martyr goes 
to heaven, no matter what hes done. That is so, isnt it, 
brother ? 

Centurion. Well, if youre going to heaven, I dont 
want to go there. I wouldnt be seen with you. 

Lentulus. Haw! Good! (Indicating the kneeling 

20 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

Ferrovius). Is this one of the turn-the-other-cheek gen- 
tlemen, Centurion? 

Centurion. Yes, sir. Lucky for you too, sir, if you 
want to take any liberties with. him. 

Lentulus (to Ferrovius) You turn the other cheek 
when youre struck, I'm told. 

Ferrovius (slowly turning his great eyes on him) 
Yes, by the grace of God, I do, now. 

Lentulus. Not that youre a coward, of course; but 
out of pure piety. 

Ferrovius. I fear God more than man; at least I 
try to. 

Lentulus. Lets see. (He strikes him on the cheek. 
Androcles makes a wild movement to rise and interfere; 
but Lavinia holds him down, watching Ferrovius intently. 
Ferrovius, without flinching, turns the other cheek. Len- 
tulus, rather out of countenance, titters foolishly, and 
strikes him again feebly). You know, I should feel 
ashamed if I let myself be struck like that, and took it 
lying down. But then I'm not a Christian: I'm a man. 
(Ferrovius rises impressively and towers over him. Len- 
tulus becomes white with terror; and a shade of green 
flickers in his cheek for a moment). 

Ferrovius (with the calm of a steam hammer) I have 
not always been faithful. The first man who struck me 
as you have just struck me was a stronger man than you: 
he hit me harder than I expected. I was tempted and 
fell ; and it was then that I first tasted bitter shame. I 
never had a happy moment after that until I had knelt 
and asked his forgiveness by his bedside in the hospital. 
(Putting his hands on Lentulus's shoulders with paternal 
weight) . But now I have learnt to resist with a strength 
that is not my own. I am not ashamed now, nor angry. 

Lentulus (uneasily) Er — good evening. (He tries 
to move away). 

Ferrovius (gripping his shoulders) Oh, do not 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 21 

harden your heart, young man. Come: try for yourself 
whether our way is not better than yours. I will now 
strike you on one cheek; and you will turn the other and 
learn how much better you will feel than if you gave way 
to the promptings of anger. (He holds him with one 
hand and clenches the other fist). 

Lentulus. Centurion : I call on you to protect me. 

Centurion. You asked for it, sir. Its no business 
of ours. Youve had two whacks at him. Better pay 
him a trifle and square it that way. 

Lentulus. Yes, of course. (To Ferrovius) It was 
only a bit of fun, I assure you: I meant no harm. Here. 
(He proffers a gold coin). 

Ferrovius (taking it and throwing it to the old beggar, 
who snatches it up eagerly, and hobbles off to spend it) 
Give all thou hast to the poor. Come, friend: courage! 
I may hurt your body for a moment; but your soul will 
rejoice in the victory of the spirit over the flesh. (He 
prepares to strike). 

Androcles. Easy, Ferrovius, easy: you broke the last 
man's jaw. 

Lentulus, with a moan of terror, attempts to fly; but 
Ferrovius holds him ruthlessly. 

Ferrovius. Yes ; but I saved his soul. What matters 
a broken jaw? 

Lentulus. Don't touch me, do you hear? The 
law — 

Ferrovius. The law will throw me to the lions to- 
morrow: what worse could it do were I to slay you? 
Pray for strength; and it shall be given to you. 

Lentulus. Let me go. Your religion forbids you to 
strike me. 

Ferrovius. On the contrary, it commands me to 
strike you. How can you turn the other cheek, if you 
are not first struck on the one cheek? 

Lentulus (almost in tears) But I'm convinced al- 

22 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

ready that what you said is quite right. I apologize for 
striking you. 

Ferrovius {greatly pleased) My son: have I softened 
your heart ? Has the good seed fallen in a fruitful place ? 
Are your feet turning towards a better path? 

Lentulus {abjectly) Yes, yes. Theres a great deal 
in what you say. 

Ferrovius {radiant) Join us. Come to the lions. 
Come to suffering and death. 

Lentulus {falling on his knees and bursting into 
tears) Oh, help me. Mother ! mother ! 

Ferrovius. These tears will water your soul and make 
it bring forth good fruit, my son. God has greatly 
blessed my efforts at conversion. Shall I tell you a 
miracle — yes, a miracle — wrought by me in Cappadocia? 
A young man — just such a one as you, with golden hair 
like yours — scoffed at and struck me as you scoffed 
at and struck me. I sat up all night with that youth 
wrestling for his soul; and in the morning not only 
was he a Christian, but his hair was as white as snow. 
{Lentulus falls in a dead faint). There, there: 
take him away. The spirit has overwrought him, poor 
lad. Carry him gently to his house; and leave the rest 
to heaven. 

Centurion. Take him home. {The servants, intimi- 
dated, hastily carry him out. Metellus is about to follow 
when Ferrovius lays his hand on his shoulder). 

Ferrovius. You are his friend, young man. You will 
see that he is taken safely home. 

Metellus {with awestruck civility) Certainly, sir. 
I shall do whatever you think best. Most happy to have 
made your acquaintance, I'm sure. You may depend on 
me. Good evening, sir. 

Ferrovius {with unction) The blessing of heaven 
upon you and him. 

Metellus follows Lentulus. The Centurion returns to 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 23 

his seat to resume his interrupted nap. The deepest awe 
has settled on the spectators. Ferrovius, with a long 
sigh of happiness, goes to Lavinia, and offers her his 

Lavinia (taking it) So that is how you convert peo- 
ple, Ferrovius. 

Ferrovius. Yes: there has been a blessing on my 
work in spite of my unworthiness and my backslidings — 
all through my wicked, devilish temper. This man — 

Androcles (hastily) Dont slap me on the back, 
brother. She knows you mean me. 

Ferrovius. How I wish I were weak like our brother 
here ! for then I should perhaps be meek and gentle like 
him. And yet there seems to be a special providence 
that makes my trials less than his. I hear tales of the 
crowd scoffing and casting stones and reviling the breth- 
ren ; but when I come, all this stops : my influence calms 
the passions of the mob : they listen to me in silence ; and 
infidels are often converted by a straight heart-to-heart 
talk with me. Every day I feel happier, more confident. 
Every day lightens the load of the great terror. 

Lavinia. The great terror ? What is that? 

Ferrovius shakes his head and does not answer. He 
sits down beside her on her left, and buries his face in his 
hands in gloomy meditation. 

Androcles. Well, you see, sister, hes never quite 
sure of himself. Suppose at the last moment in the arena, 
with the gladiators there to fight him, one of them was 
to say anything to annoy him, he might forget himself 
and lay that gladiator out. 

Lavinia. That would be splendid. 

Ferrovius (springing up in horror) What! 

Androcles. Oh, sister ! 

Ferrovius. Splendid to betray my master, like Peter ! 
Splendid to act like any common blackguard in the day 
of my proving! Woman: you are no Christian. (He 

24 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

moves away from her to the middle of the square, as if 
her neighborhood contaminated him). 

Lavinia (laughing) You know, Ferrovius, I am not 
always a Christian. I dont think anybody is. There 
are moments when I forget all about it, and something 
comes out quite naturally, as it did then. 

Spintho. What does it matter? If you die in the 
arena, youll be a martyr; and all martyrs go to heaven, 
no matter what they have done. Thats so, isnt it, 
Ferrovius ? 

Ferrovius. Yes: that is so, if we are faithful to the 

Lavinia. I'm not so sure. 

Spintho. Dont say that. Thats blasphemy. Dont 
say that, I tell you. We shall be saved, no matter what 
we do. 

Lavinia. Perhaps you men will all go into heaven 
bravely and in triumph, with your heads erect and golden 
trumpets sounding for you. But I am sure shall only 
be allowed to squeeze myself in through a little crack 
in the gate after a great deal of begging. I am not good 
always: I have moments only. 

Spintho. Youre talking nonsense, woman. I tell 
you, martyrdom pays all scores. 

Androcles. Well, let us hope so, brother, for your 
sake. Youve had a gay time, havent you? with your 
raids on the temples. I cant help thinking that heaven 
will be very dull for a man of your temperament. 
{Spintho snarls). Dont be angry: I say it only to con- 
sole you in case you should die in your bed tonight in the 
natural way. Theres a lot of plague about. 

Spintho (rising and running about in abject terror) 
I never thought of that. O Lord, spare me to be mar- 
tyred. Oh, what a thought to put into the mind of a 
brother! Oh, let me be martyred today, now. I shall 
die in the night and go to hell. Youre a sorcerer: youve 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 25 

put death into my mind. Oh, curse you, curse you ! (He 
tries to seise Androcles by the throat), 

Ferrovius (holding him in a grip of iron) Whats 
this, brother? Anger! Violence! Raising your hand 
to a brother Christian ! 

Spintho. It's easy for you. Youre strong. Your 
nerves are all right. But I'm full of disease. (Ferrovius 
takes his hand from him with instinctive disgust). Ive 
drunk all my nerves away. I shall have the horrors all 

Androcles (sympathetic) Oh, dont take on so, 
brother. We're all sinners. 

Spintho (snivelling, trying to feel consoled). Yes: I 
daresay if the truth were known, youre all as bad as I am. 

Lavinia (contemptuously) Does that comfort you? 

Ferrovius (sternly) Pray, man, pray. 

Spintho. Whats the good of praying? If we're mar- 
tyred we shall go to heaven, shant we, whether we pray 
or not? 

Ferrovius. Whats that? Not pray! (Seizing him 
again) Pray this instant, you dog, you rotten hound, 
you slimy snake, you beastly goat, or — 

Spintho. Yes : beat me : kick me. I forgive you : mind 

Ferrovius (spurning him with loathing) Yah! 
(Spintho reels away and falls in front of Ferrovius). 

Androcles (reaching out and catching the skirt of 
Ferrovius*s tunic) Dear brother: if you wouldnt mind 
— just for my sake — 

Ferrovius. Well ? 

Androcles. Dont call him by the names of the ani- 
mals. Weve no right to. Ive had such friends in dogs. 
A pet snake is the best of company. I was nursed on 
goat's milk. Is it fair to them to call the like of him a 
dog or a snake or a goat? 

Ferrovius. I only meant that they have no souls. 

26 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

Androcles {anxiously protesting) Oh, believe me, 
they have. Just the same as you and me. I really dont 
think I could consent to go to heaven if I thought there 
were to be no animals there. Think of what they suffer 

Ferrovius. Thats true. Yes: that is just. They 
will have their share in heaven. 

Spintho {who has picked himself up and is sneaking 
past Ferrovius on his left, sneers derisively) ! ! 

Ferrovius (turning on him fiercely) Whats that 
you say? 

Spintho (cowering). Nothing. 

Ferrovius (clenching his fist) Do animals go to 
heaven or not? 

Spintho. I never said they didnt. 

Ferrovius (implacable) Do they or do they not? 

Spintho. They do: they do. (Scrambling out of 
Ferrovius' s reach). Oh, curse you for frightening me! 

A bugle call is heard. 

Centurion (waking up) Tention! Form as before. 
Now then, prisoners, up with you and trot along spry. 
(The soldiers fall in. The Christians rise). 

A man with an ox goad comes running through the 
central arch. 

The Ox Driver. Here, you soldiers ! clear out of the 
way for the Emperor. 

The Centurion. Emperor! Wheres the Emperor? 
You aint the Emperor, are you? 

The Ox Driver. It's the menagerie service. My team 
of oxen is drawing the new lion to the Coliseum. You 
clear the road. 

Centurion. What! Go in after you in your dust, 
with half the town at the heels of you and your lion! 
Not likely. We go first. 

The Ox Driver. The menagerie service is the Em- 
peror's personal retinue. You clear out, I tell you. 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 27 

Centurion. You tell me, do you? Well, 111 tell you 
something. If the lion is menagerie service, the lion's 
dinner is menagerie service too. This (pointing to the 
Christians) is the lion's dinner. So back with you to your 
bullocks double quick; and learn your place. March. 
(The soldiers start). Now then, you Christians, step out 

Lavinia (marching) Come along, the rest of the din- 
ner. I shall be the olives and anchovies. 

Another Christian (laughing) I shall be the soup. 

Another. I shall be the fish. 

Another. Ferrovius shall be the roast boar. 

Ferrovius (heavily) I see the joke. Yes, yes: I 
shall be the roast boar. Ha ! ha ! (He laughs conscien- 
tiously and marches out with them). 

Androcles. I shall be the mince pie. (Each an- 
nouncement is received with a louder laugh by all the rest 
as the joke catches on) . 

Centurion (scandalized) Silence ! Have some sense 
of your situation. Is this the way for martyrs to behave ? 
(To Spintho, who is quaking and loitering) I know 
what y o u 1 1 be at that dinner. Youll be the emetic. 
(He shoves him rudely along). 

Spintho. Its too dreadful: I'm not fit to die. 

Centurion. Fitter than you are to live, you swine. 

They pass from the square westward. The oxen, draw- 
ing a waggon with a great wooden cage and the lion in 
it, arrive through the central arch. 


Behind the Emperor's box at the Coliseum, where the 
performers assemble before entering the arena. In the 
middle a wide passage leading to the arena descends from 
the floor level under the imperial box. On both sides of 
this passage steps ascend to a landing at the bach en- 
trance to the box. The landing forms a bridge across 
the passage. At the entrance to the passage are two 
bronze mirrors, one on each side. 

On the west side of this passage, on the right hand 
of any one coming from the box and standing on the 
bridge, the martyrs are sitting on the steps. Lavinia is 
seated half-way up, thoughtful, trying to look death in 
the face. On her left Androcles consoles himself by 
nursing a cat. Ferrovius stands behind them, his eyes 
blazing, his figure stiff with intense resolution. At the 
foot of the steps crouches Spintho, with his head clutched 
in his hands, full of horror at the approach of martyrdom. 

On the east side of the passage the gladiators are stand- 
ing and sitting at ease, waiting, like the Christians, for 
their turn in the arena. One (Retiarius) is a nearly 
naked man with a net and a trident. Another (Secutor) 
is in armor with a sword. He carries a helmet with a 
barred visor. The editor of the gladiators sits on a chair 
a little apart from them. 

The Call Boy enters from the passage. 

The Call Boy. Number six. Retiarius versus Secu- 

The gladiator with the net picks it up. The gladiator 
with the helmet puts it on; and the two go into the arena, 


Act II Androcles and the Lion 29 

the net thrower taking out a little brush and arranging 
his hair as he goes, the other tightening his straps and 
shaking his shoulders loose. Both look at themselves in 
the mirrors before they enter the passage. 

Lavinia. Will they really kill one another? 

Spintho. Yes, if the people turn down their thumbs. 

The Editor. You know nothing about it. The people 
indeed! Do you suppose we would kill a man worth 
perhaps fifty talents to please the riffraff? I should like 
to catch any of my men at it. 

Spintho. I thought — 

The Editor (contemptuously) You thought! Who 
cares what you think ? Y o u 1 1 be killed all right enough. 

Spintho (groans and again hides his face) ! ! ! 

Lavinia. Then is nobody ever killed except us poor 
Christians ? 

The Editor. If the vestal virgins turn down their 
thumbs, thats another matter. Theyre ladies of rank. 

Lavinia. Does the Emperor ever interfere ? 

The Editor. Oh, yes: he turns his thumbs up fast 
enough if the vestal virgins want to have one of his pet 
fighting men killed. 

Androcles. But dont they ever just only pretend to 
kill one another ? Why shouldnt you pretend to die, and 
get dragged out as if you were dead ; and then get up and 
go home, like an actor? 

The Editor. See here: you want to know too much. 
There will be no pretending about the new lion: let that 
be enough for you. Hes hungry. 

Spintho (groaning with horror) Oh, Lord! cant 
you stop talking about it? Isnt it bad enough for us 
without that? 

Androcles. I'm glad hes hungry. Not that I want 
him to suffer, poor chap! but then hell enjoy eating me 
so much more. Theres a cheerful side to everything. 

The Editor (rising and striding over to Androcles) 

30 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

Here: dont you be obstinate. Come with me and drop 
the pinch of incense on the altar. Thats all you need 
do to be let off. 

Androcles. No: thank you very much indeed; but I 
really mustnt. 

The Editor. What ! Not to save your life ? 

Androcles. Id rather not. I couldnt sacrifice to 
Diana : shes a huntress, you know, and kills things. 

The Editor. That dont matter. You can choose 
your own altar. Sacrifice to Jupiter: he likes animals: 
he turns himself into an animal when he goes off duty. 

Androcles. No: its very kind of you; but I feel I 
cant save myself that way. 

The Editor. But I dont ask you to do it to save your- 
self: I ask you to do it to oblige me personally. 

Androcles (scrambling up in the greatest agitation') 
Oh, please dont say that. That is dreadful. You mean 
so kindly by me that it seems quite horrible to disoblige 
you. If you could arrange for me to sacrifice when 
theres nobody looking, I shouldnt mind. But I must go 
into the arena with the rest. My honor, you know. 

The Editor. Honor ! The honor of a tailor ? 

Androcles (apologetically) Well, perhaps honor is 
too strong an expression. Still, you know, I couldnt al- 
low the tailors to get a bad name through me. 

The Editor. How much will you remember of all 
that when you smell the beast's breath and see his jaws 
opening to tear out your throat? 

Spintho (rising with a yell of terror) I cant bear it. 
Wheres the altar? I'll sacrifice. 

Ferrovius. Dog of an apostate. Iscariot! 

Spintho. I'll repent afterwards. I fully mean to die 
in the arena: I'll die a martyr and go to heaven; but not 
this time, not now, not until my nerves are better. Be- 
sides, I'm too young: I want to have just one more good 
time. (The gladiators laugh at him). Oh, will no one 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 31 

tell me where the altar is ? {He dashes into the passage 
and vanishes). 

Androcles {to the Editor, pointing after Spintho) 
Brother: I cant do that, not even to oblige you. Dont 
ask me. 

The Editor. Well, if youre determined to die, I cant 
help you. But I wouldnt be put off by a swine like that. 

Ferrovius. Peace, peace: tempt him not. Get thee 
behind him, Satan. 

The Editor {flushing with rage) For two pins Id 
take a turn in the arena myself to-day, and pay you out 
for daring to talk to me like that. 

Ferrovius springs forward. 

Lavinia {rising quickly and interposing) Brother, 
brother: you forget. 

Ferrovius {curbing himself by a mighty effort) Oh, 
my temper, my wicked temper! {To the Editor, as La- 
vinia sits down again, reassured). Forgive me, brother. 
My heart was full of wrath : I should have been thinking 
of your dear precious soul. 

The Editor. Yah! {He turns his back on Ferrovius 
contemptuously, and goes back to his seat). 

Ferrovius {continuing) And I forgot it all: I 
thought of nothing but offering to fight you with one 
hand tied behind me. 

The Editor {turning pugnaciously) What ! 

Ferrovius {on the border line between zeal and feroc- 
ity) Oh, dont give way to pride and wrath, brother. 
I could do it so easily. I could — 

They are separated by the Menagerie Keeper, who 
rushes in from the passage, furious. 

The Keeper. Heres a nice business! Who let that 
Christian out of here down to the dens when we were 
changing the lion into the cage next the arena ? 

The Editor. Nobody let him. He let himself. 

The Keeper. Well, the lion's ate him. 

32 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

Consternation. The Christians rise, greatly agitated. 
The gladiators sit callously, but are highly amused. All 
speak or cry out or laugh at once. Tumult. 

Lavinia. Oh, poor wretch! Ferrovius. The apos- 
tate has perished. Praise be to God's justice! An- 
drocles. The poor beast was straving. It couldnt help 
itself. The Christians. What! Ate him! How 
frightful ! How terrible ! Without a moment to repent ! 
God be merciful to him, a sinner! Oh, I cant bear to 
think of it ! In the midst of his sin ! Horrible, horrible ! 
The Editor. Serve the rotter right ! The Gladiators. 
Just walked into it, he did. Hes martyred all right 
enough. Good old lion! Old Jock doesnt like that: 
look at his face. Devil a better! The Emperor will 
laugh when he hears of it. I cant help smiling. Ha 
ha ha! ! ! ! ! 

The Keeper. Now his appetite's taken off, he wont 
as much as look at another Christian for a week. 

Androcles. Couldnt you have saved him brother? 

The Keeper. Saved him! Saved him from a lion 
that Id just got mad with hunger! a wild one that came 
out of the forest not four weeks ago! He bolted him 
before you could say Balbus. 

Lavinia (sitting down again) Poor Spintho! And it 
wont even count as martyrdom ! 

The Keeper. Serve him right! What call had he 
to walk down the throat of one of my lions before he 
was asked? 

Androcles. Perhaps the lion wont eat me now. 

The Keeper. Yes: thats just like a Christian: think 
only of yourself ! What am /to do ? What am I to say 
to the Emperor when he sees one of my lions coming into 
the arena half asleep ? 

The Editor. Say nothing. Give your old lion some 
bitters and a morsel of fried fish to wake up his appetite. 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 33 

The Keeper. Yes: it's easy for you to talk; but — 

The Editor (scrambling to his feet) Sh! Attention 
there! The Emperor. (The Keeper bolts precipitately 
into the passage. The gladiators rise smartly and form 
into line). 

The Emperor enters on the Christians' side, conversing 
with Metellus, and followed by his suite. 

The Gladiators. Hail, Caesar! those about to die 
salute thee. 

Caesar. Good morrow, friends. 

Metellus shakes hands with the Editor, who accepts 
his condescension with bluff respect. 

Lavinia. Blessing, Caesar, and forgiveness! 

Caesar (turning in some surprise at the salutation) 
There is no forgiveness for Christianity. 

Lavinia. I did not mean that, Caesar. I mean that 
w e forgive you. 

Metellus. An inconceivable liberty! Do you not 
know, woman, that the Emperor can do no wrong and 
therefore cannot be forgiven? 

Lavinia. I expect the Emperor knows better. Any- 
how, we forgive him. 

The Christians. Amen! 

Caesar. Metellus: you see now the disadvantage of 
too much severity. These people have no hope; there- 
fore they have nothing to restrain them from saying what 
they like to me. They are almost as impertinent as the 
gladiators. Which is the Greek sorcerer? 

Androcles (humbly touching his forelock) Me, your 

Caesar. My Worship! Good! A new title. Well, 
what miracles can you perform? 

Androcles. I can cure warts by rubbing them with 
my tailor's chalk; and I can live with m\ wife without 
beating her. 

Caesar. Is that all? 

34 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

Androcles. You dont know her, Caesar, or you 
wouldnt say that. 

Caesar. Ah, well, my friend, we shall no doubt con- 
trive a happy release for you. Which is Ferrovius? 

Ferrovius. I am he. 

Caesar. They tell me you can fight. 

Ferrovius. It is easy to fight. I can die, Caesar. 

Caesar. That is still easier, is it not? 

Ferrovius. Not to me, Caesar. Death comes hard to 
my flesh; and fighting comes very easily to my spirit 
{beating his breast and lamenting) O sinner that I 
am! (He throws himself down on the steps, deeply 
discouraged) . 

Caesar. Metellus: I should like to have this man in 
the Pretorian Guard. 

Metellus. I should not, Caesar. He looks a spoil- 
sport. There are men in whose presence it is impossible 
to have any fun: men who are a sort of walking con- 
science. He would make us all uncomfortable. 

Caesar. For that reason, perhaps, it might be well to 
have him. An Emperor can hardly have too many con- 
sciences. (To Ferrovius) Listen, Ferrovius. (Fer- 
rovius shakes his head and will not look up). You and 
your friends shall not be outnumbered to-day in the arena. 
You shall have arms ; and there will be no more than one 
gladiator to each Christian. If you come out of the arena 
alive, I will consider favorably any request of yours, and 
give you a place in the Pretorian Guard. Even if the 
request be that no questions be asked about your faith I 
shall perhaps not refuse it. 

Ferrovius. I will not fight. I will die. Better stand 
with the archangels than with the Pretorian Guard. 

Caesar. I cannot believe that the archangels — who- 
ever they may be — would not prefer to be recruited from 
the Pretorian Guard. However, as you please. Come: 
let us see the show. 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 35 

As the Court ascends the steps, Secutor and Retiarius 
return from the arena through the passage: Secutor cov- 
ered with dust and very angry: Retiarius grinning. 

Secutor. Ha, the Emperor. Now we shall see. 
Caesar: I ask you whether it is fair for the Retiarius, 
instead of making a fair throw of his net at me, to swish 
it along the ground and throw the dust in my eyes, and 
then catch me when I'm blinded. If the vestals had not 
turned up their thumbs I should have been a dead man. 

Caesar {halting on the stair) There is nothing in the 
rules against it. 

Secutor (indignantly) Caesar: is it a dirty trick or 
is it not? 

Caesar. It is a dusty one, my friend. (Obsequious 
laughter). Be on your guard next time. 

Secutor. Let h i m be on his guard. Next time I'll 
throw my sword at his heels and strangle him with his 
own net before he can hop off. (To the Retiarius) You 
see if I dont. (He goes out past the gladiators, sulky 
and furious). 

Caesar (to the chuckling Retiarius). These tricks are 
not wise, my friend. The audience likes to see a dead 
man in all his beauty and splendor. If you smudge his 
face and spoil his armor they will shew their displeasure 
by not letting you kill him. And when your turn comes, 
they will remember it against you and turn their thumbs 

The Retiarius. Perhaps that is why I did it, Caesar. 
He bet me ten sesterces that he would vanquish me. If 
I had had to kill him I should not have had the money. 

Caesar (indulgent, laughing) You rogues: there is 
no end to your tricks. I'll dismiss you all and have ele- 
phants to fight. They fight fairly. (He goes up to 
his box, and knocks at it. It is opened from within by 
the Captain, who stands as on parade to let him pass). 

The Call Boy comes from the passage, followed by 

36 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

three attendants carrying respectively a bundle of swords, 
some helmets, and some breastplates and pieces of armor 
which they throw down in a heap. 
->. i The Call Boy. By your leave, Caesar. Number 
eleven ! Gladiators and Christians ! 

Ferrovius springs up, ready for martyrdom. The other 
Christians take the summons as best they can, some joy- 
ful and brave, some patient and dignified, some tearful 
and helpless, some embracing one another with emotion. 
The Call Boy goes back into the passage. 

Caesar (turning at the door of the box) The hour has 
come, Ferrovius. I shall go into my box and see you 
killed, since you scorn the Pretorian Guard. (He goes 
into the box. The Captain shuts the door, remaining in- 
side with the Emperor. Metellus and the rest of the suite 
disperse to their seats. The Christians, led by Ferrovius, 
move towards the passage). 

Lavinia (to Ferrovius) Farewell. 

The Editor. Steady there. You Christians have got 
to fight. Here ! arm yourselves. 

Ferrovius (picking up a sword) I'll die sword in 
hand to shew people that I could fight if it were my 
Master's will, and that I could kill the man who kills 
me if I chose. 

The Editor. Put on that armor. 

Ferrovius. No armor. 

The Editor (bullying him) Do what youre told. 
Put on that armor. 

Ferrovius (gripping the sword and looking danger- 
ous) I said, No armor. 

The Editor. And what am I to say when I am 
accused of sending a naked man in to fight my men in 

armor r 

Ferrovius. Say your prayers, brother; and have no 
fear of the princes of this world. 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 37 

The Editor. Tsha ! You obstinate fool ! (He bites 
his lips irresolutely, not knowing exactly what to do). 

Androcles (to Ferrovius) Farewell, brother, till we 
meet in the sweet by-and-by. 

The Editor (to Androcles) You are going too. 
Take a sword there ; and put on any armor you can find 
to fit you. 

Androcles. No, really: I cant fight: I never could: 
I cant bring myself to dislike anyone enough. I'm to 
be thrown to the lions with the lady. 

The Editor. Then get out of the way and hold your 
noise. (Androcles steps aside with cheerful docility). 
Now then ! Are you all ready there ? 

A trumpet is heard from the arena. 

Ferrovius (starting convulsively) Heaven give me 
strength ! 

The Editor. Aha! That frightens you, does it? 

Ferrovius. Man: there is no terror like the terror of 
that sound to me. When I hear a trumpet or a drum 
or the clash of steel or the hum of the catapult as the 
great stone flies, fire runs through my veins: I feel my 
blood surge up hot behind my eyes: I must charge: I 
must strike: I must conquer: Caesar himself will not be 
safe in his imperial seat if once that spirit gets loose in 
me. Oh, brothers, pray ! exhort me ! remind me that if I 
raise my sword my honor falls and my Master is cruci- 
fied afresh. 

Androcles. Just keep thinking how cruelly you might 
hurt the poor gladiators. 

Ferrovius. It does not hurt a man to kill him. 

Lavinia. Nothing but faith can save you. 

Ferrovius. Faith! Which faith? There are two 
faiths. There is our faith. And there is the warrior's 
faith, the faith in fighting, the faith that sees God 
in the sword. How if that faith should overwhelm 

38 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

Lavinia. You will find your real faith in the hour of 

Ferrovius. That is what I fear. I know that I am a 
fighter. How can I feel sure that I am a Christian? 

Androcles. Throw away the sword, brother. 

Ferrovius. I cannot. It cleaves to my hand. I could 
as easily throw a woman I loved from my arms. (Start- 
ing) Who spoke that blasphemy? Not I. 

Lavinia. I cant help you, friend. I cant tell you 
not to save your own life. Something wilful in me wants 
to see you fight your way into heaven. 

Ferrovius. Ha ! 

Androcles. But if you are going to give up our faith, 
brother, why not do it without hurting anybody? Dont 
fight them. Burn the incense. 

Ferrovius. Burn the incense ! Never. 

Lavinia. That is only pride, Ferrovius. 

Ferrovius. Only pride ! What is nobler than pride ? 
(Conscience stricken) Oh, I'm steeped in sin. I'm proud 
of my pride. 

Lavinia. They say we Christians are the proudest 
devils on earth — that only the weak are meek. Oh, I am 
worse than you. I ought to send you to death; and I 
am tempting you. 

Androcles. Brother, brother: let them rage and 
kill : let us be brave and suffer. You must go as a 
lamb to the slaughter. 

Ferrovius. Aye, aye: that is right. Not as a lamb 
is slain by the butcher; but as a butcher might let him- 
self be slain by a (looking at the Editor) by a silly ram 
whose head he could fetch off in one twist. 

Before the Editor can retort, the Call Boy rushes up 
through the passage; and the Captain comes from the 
Emperor's box and descends the steps. 

The Call Boy. In with you: into the arena. The 
stage is waiting. 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 39 

The Captain. The Emperor is waiting. (To the 
Editor) What are you dreaming of, man? Send your 
men in at once. 

The Editor. Yes, sir: it's these Christians hanging 

Ferrovius (in a voice of thunder) Liar ! 

The Editor (not heeding him) March. (The gladi- 
ators told off to fight with the Christians march down the 
passage) Follow up there, you. 

The Christian Men and Women (as they part) 
Be steadfast, brother. Farewell. Hold up the faith, 
brother. Farewell. Go to glory, dearest. Farewell. 
Remember: we are praying for you. Farewell. Be 
strong, brother. Farewell. Dont forget that the divine 
love and our love surround you. Farewell. Nothing can 
hurt you: remember that, brother. Farewell. Eternal 
glory, dearest. Farewell. 

The Editor (out of patience) Shove them in, there. 

The remaining gladiators and the Call Boy make a 
movement towards them, 

Ferrovius (interposing) Touch them, dogs; and we 
die here, and cheat the heathen of their spectacle. (To 
his fellow Christians) Brothers: the great moment has 
come. That passage is your hill to Calvary. Mount it 
bravely, but meekly; and remember! not a word of re- 
proach, not a blow nor a struggle. Go. (They go out 
through the passage. He turns to Lavinia) Farewell. 

Lavinia. You forget: I must follow before you are 

Ferrovius. It is true. Do not envy me because I pass 
before you to glory. (He goes through the passage). 

The Editor (to the Call Boy) Sickening work, this. 
Why cant they all be thrown to the lions? It's not a 
man's job. (He throws himself moodily into his chair). 

The remaining gladiators go bach to their former places 
indifferently. The Call Boy shrugs his shoulders and 

40 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

squats down at the entrance to the passage, near the 

Lavinia and the Christian women sit down again, 
wrung with grief, some weeping silently, some praying, 
some calm and steadfast. Androcles sits down at La- 
vinia's feet. The Captain stands on the stairs, watching 
her curiously. 

Androcles. I'm glad I havnt to fight. That would 
really be an awful martyrdom. lam lucky. 

Lavinia {looking at him with a pang of remorse). 
Androcles : burn the incense : youll be forgiven. Let my 
death atone for both. I feel as if I were killing you. 

Androcles. Dont think of me, sister. Think of your- 
self. That will keep your heart up. 

The Captain laughs sardonically. 

Lavinia (startled: she had forgotten his presence) 
Are you there, handsome Captain? Have you come to 
see me die? 

The Captain (coming to her side) I am on duty with 
the Emperor, Lavinia. 

Lavinia. Is it part of your duty to laugh at us? 

The Captain. No: that is part of my private pleas- 
ure. Your friend here is a humorist. I laughed at his 
telling you to think of yourself to keep up your heart. 
I say, think of yourself and burn the incense. 

Lavinia. He is not a humorist: he was right. You 
ought to know that, Captain : you have been face. to face 
with death. 

The Captain. Not with certain death, Lavinia. Only 
death in battle, which spares more men than death in bed. 
What you are facing is certain death. You have nothing 
left now but your faith in this craze of yours : this Chris- 
tianity. Are your Christian fairy stories any truer than 
our stories about Jupiter and Diana, in which, I may tell 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 41 

you, I believe no more than the Emperor does, or any 
educated man in Rome? 

Lavinia. Captain: all that seems nothing to me now. 
I'll not say that death is a terrible thing; but I will say 
that it is so real a thing that when it comes close, all the 
imaginary things — all the stories, as you call them — fade 
into mere dreams beside that inexorable reality. I know 
now that I am not dying for stories or dreams. Did you 
hear of the dreadful thing that happened here while we 
were waiting? 

The Captain. I heard that one of your fellows bolted, 
and ran right into the jaws of the lion. I laughed. I 
still laugh. 

Lavinia. Then you dont understand what that meant ? 

The Captain. It meant that the lion had a cur for his 

Lavinia. It meant more than that, Captain. It meant 
that a man cannot die for a story and a dream. None of 
us believed the stories and the dreams more devoutly 
than poor Spintho ; but he could not face the great reality. 
What he would have called my faith has been oozing 
away minute by minute whilst Ive been sitting here, with 
death coming nearer and nearer, with reality becoming 
realler and realler, with stories and dreams fading away 
into nothing. 

The Captain. Are you then going to die for nothing? 

Lavinia. Yes : that is the wonderful thing. It is since 
all the stories and dreams have gone that I have now no 
doubt at all that I must die for something greater than 
dreams or stories. 

The Captain. But for what? 

Lavinia. I dont know. If it were for anything small 
enough to know, it would be too small to die for. I think 
I'm going to die for God. Nothing else is real enough 
to die for. 

42 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

The Captain. What is God? 

Lavinia. When we know that, Captain, we shall be 
gods ourselves. 

The Captain. Lavinia; come down to earth. Burn 
the incense and marry me. 

Lavinia. Handsome Captain : would you marry me if 
I hauled down the flag in the day of battle and burnt the 
incense ? Sons take after their mothers, you know. Do 
you want your son to be a coward? 

The Captain {strongly moved). By great Diana, I 
think I would strangle you if you gave in now. 

Lavinia {'putting her hand on the head of Androcles) 
The hand of God is on us three, Captain. 

The Captain. What nonsense it all is ! And what a 
monstrous thing that you should die for such nonsense, 
and that I should look on helplessly when my whole soul 
cries out against it! Die then if you must; but at least 
I can cut the Emperor's throat and then my own when 
I see your blood. 

The Emperor throws open the door of his box angrily, 
and appears in wrath on the threshold. The Editor, the 
Call Boy, and the gladiators spring to their feet. 

The Emperor. The Christians will not fight; and 
your curs cannot get their blood up to attack them. It's 
all that fellow with the blazing eyes. Send for the whip. 
{The Call Boy rushes out on the east side for the whip). 
If that will not move them, bring the hot irons. The 
man is like a mountain. {He returns angrily into the 
box and slams the door). 

The Call Boy returns with a man in a hideous Etruscan 
mash, carrying a whip. They both rush down the passage 
into the arena. 

Lavinia {rising) Oh, that is unworthy. Can they not 
kill him without dishonoring him? 

Androcles {scrambling to his feet and running into 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 43 

the middle of the space between the staircases) It's 
dreadful. Now I want to fight. I cant bear the sight of 
a whip. The only time I ever hit a man was when he 
lashed an old horse with a whip. It was terrible: I 
danced on his face when he was on the ground. He mustnt 
strike Ferrovius : I'll go into the arena and kill him first. 
{He makes a wild dash into the passage. As he does so 
a great clamor is heard from the arena, ending in wild 
applause. The gladiators listen and look inquiringly at 
one another). 

The Editor. Whats up now? 

Lavinia (to the Captain) What has happened, do you 

The Captain. What can happen ? They are killing 
them, I suppose. 

Androcles (running in through the passage, scream- 
ing with horror and hiding his eyes) ! ! ! 

Lavinia. Androcles, Androcles: whats the matter? 
^Androcles. Oh, dont ask me, dont ask me. Some- 
thing too dreadful. Oh ! (He crouches by her and hides 
his face in her robe, sobbing). 

The Call Boy (rushing through from the passage as 
before) Ropes and hooks there ! Ropes and hooks. 

The Editor. Well, need you excite yourself about 
it? (Another burst of applause). 

Two slaves in Etruscan masks, with ropes and drag 
hooks, hurry in. 
>M » One of the Slaves. How many dead ? 

The Call Boy. Six. (The slave blows a whistle 
twice j and four more masked slaves rush through into 
the arena with the same apparatus) And the basket. 
Bring the baskets. (The slave whistles three times, and 
runs through the passage with his companion) . 

The Captain. Who are the baskets for ? 

The Call Boy. For the whip. He's in pieces. 


44 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

Theyre all in pieces, more or less. (Lavinia hides her 

Two more masked slaves come in with a basket and 
follow the others into the arena, as the Call Boy turns 
to the gladiators and exclaims, exhausted) Boys, he's 
killed the lot. 

The Emperor (again bursting from his box, this time 
in an ecstasy of delight) Where is he? Magnificent! 
He shall have a laurel crown. 

Ferrovius, madly waving his bloodstained sword, 
rushes through the passage in despair, followed by his co- 
religionists, and by the menagerie keeper, who goes to 
the gladiators. The gladiators draw their swords ner- 

Ferrovius. Lost! lost forever! I have betrayed my 
Master. Cut off this right hand: it has offended. Ye 
have swords, my brethren: strike. 

Lavinia. No, no. What have you done, Ferrovius ? 

Ferrovius. I know not; but there was blood behind 
my eyes; and theres blood on my sword. What does 
that mean? 

The Emperor (enthusiastically, on the landing outside 
his box) What does it mean? It means that you are 
the greatest man in Rome. It means that you shall have 
a laurel crown of gold. Superb fighter, I could almost 
yield you my throne. It is a record for my reign : I shall 
live in history. Once, in Domitian's time, a Gaul slew 
three men in the arena and gained his freedom. But 
when before has one naked man slain six armed men of 
the bravest and best? The persecution shall cease: if 
Christians can fight like this, I shall have none but Chris- 
tians to fight for me. (To the Gladiators) You are 
ordered to become Christians, you there : do you hear ? 
- Retiarius. It is all one to us, Caesar. Had I been 
there with my net, the story would have been different. 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 45 

The Captain (suddenly seizing Lavinia by the wrist 
and dragging her up the steps to the Emperor) Caesar: 
this woman as the sister of Ferrovius. If she is thrown 
to the lions he will fret. He will lose weight ; get out 
of condition — 

The Emperor. The lions? Nonsense! (To Lavinia) 
Madam: I am proud to have the honor of making your 
acquaintance. Your brother is the glory of Rome. 

Lavinia. But my friends here. Must they die ? 

The Emperor. Die ! Certainly not. There has never 
been the slightest idea of harming them. Ladies and 
gentlemen: you are all free. Pray go into the front of 
the house and enjoy the spectacle to which your brother 
has so splendidly contributed. Captain: oblige me by 
conducting them to the seats reserved for my personal 

The Menagerie Keeper. Caesar: I must have one 
Christian for the lion. The people have been promised 
it; and they will tear the decorations to bits if they are 

The Emperor. True, true: we must have somebody 
for the new lion. 

Ferrovius. Throw me to him. Let the apostate perish. 

The Emperor. No, no : you would tear him in pieces, 
my friend ; and we cannot afford to throw away lions as 
if they were mere slaves. But we must have somebody. 
This is really extremely awkward. 

The Menagerie Keeper. Why not that little Greek 
chap ? Hes not a Christian : hes a sorcerer. 

The Emperor. The very thing: he will do very well. 

The Call Boy (issuing from the passage) Number 
twelve. The Christian for the new lion. 

Androcles (rising, and pulling himself sadly to- 
gether) Well, it was to be, after all. 

Lavinia. I'll go in his place, Caesar, Ask the Cap- 

46 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

tain whether they do not like best to see a woman torn to 
pieces. He told me so yesterday. 

The Emperor. There is something in that: there is 
certainly something in that — if only I could feel sure that 
your brother would not fret. 

Androcles. No: I should never have another happy 
hour. No : on the faith of a Christian and the honor of a 
tailor, I accept the lot that has fallen on me. If my wife 
turns up, give her my love and say that my wish was 
that she should be happy with her next, poor fellow! 
Caesar : go to your box and see how a tailor can die. Make 
way for number twelve there. {He marches out along 
the passage). 

The vast audience in the amphitheatre now sees the 
Emperor re-enter his box and take his place as Androcles, 
desperately frightened, but still marching with piteous 
devotion, emerges from the other end of the passage, and 
finds himself at the focus of thousands of eager eyes. The 
lion's cage, with a heavy portcullis grating, is on his left. 
The Emperor gives a signal. A gong sounds. Androcles 
shivers at the sound; then falls on his knees and prays. 
The grating rises with a clash. The lion bounds into the 
arena. He rushes round frisking in his freedom. He 
sees Androcles. He stops; rises stiffly by straightening 
his legs; stretches out his nose forward and his tail in a 
horizontal line behind, like a pointer, and utters an ap- 
palling roar. Androcles crouches and hides his face in 
his hands. The lion gathers himself for a spring, swish- 
ing his tail to and fro through the dust in an ecstasy of 
anticipation. Androcles throws up his hands in suppli- 
cation to heaven. The lion checks at the sight of Andro- 
cles's face. He then steals towards him; smells him; 
arches his back; purrs like a motor car; finally rubs 
himself against Androcles, knocking him over. Androcles, 
supporting himself on his wrist, looks affrightedly at the 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 47 

lion. The lion limps on three paws, holding up the other 
as if it was wounded. A flash of recognition lights up 
the face of Androcles. He flaps his hand as if it had a 
thorn in it, and pretends to pidl the thorn out and to 
hurt himself. The lion nods repeatedly. Androcles holds 
out his hands to the lion, who gives him both paws, which 
he shakes with enthusiasm. They embrace rapturously, 
finally waltz round the arena amid a sudden burst of 
deafening applause, and out through the passage, the 
Emperor watching them in breathless astonishment until 
they disappear, when he rushes from his box and descends 
the steps in frantic excitement. 

The Emperor. My friends, an incredible! an amaz- 
ing thing! has happened. I can no longer doubt the 
truth of Christianity. (The Christians press to him joy- 
fully) This Christian sorcerer — (with a yell, he breaks 
off as he sees Androcles and the lion emerge from the 
passage, waltzing. He bolts wildly up the steps into his 
box, and slams the door. All, Christians and gladiators 
alike, fly for their lives, the gladiators bolting into the 
arena, the others in all directions. The place is emptied 
with magical suddenness). 

Androcles (naively) Now I wonder why they all 
run away from us like that. (The lion combining a series 
of yawns, purrs, and roars, achieves something very like 
a laugh). 

The Emperor (standing on a chair inside his box and 
looking over the wall) Sorcerer: I command you to put 
that lion to death instantly. It is guilty of high treason. 
Your conduct is most disgra — (the lion charges at him 
up the stairs) help ! (He disappears. The lion rears 
against the box; looks over the partition at him, and roars. 
The Emperor darts out through the door and down to 
Androcles, pursued by the lion.) 

Androcles. Dont run away, sir: he cant help spring- 

48 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

ing if you run. (He seizes the Emperor and gets between 
him and the lion, who stops at once). Dont be afraid 
of him. 

The Emperor. I am not afraid of him. (The lion 
crouches, growling. The Emperor clutches Androcles) 
Keep between us. 

Androcles. Never be afraid of animals, your Wor- 
ship : thats the great secret. Hell be as gentle as a lamb 
when he knows that you are his friend. Stand quite still ; 
and smile; and let him smell you all over just to reas- 
sure him; for, you see, hes afraid of you; and he must 
examine you thoroughly before he gives you his confi- 
dence. (To the lion) Come now, Tommy; and speak 
nicely to the Emperor, the great, good Emperor who has 
power to have all our heads cut off if we dont behave 
very, very respectfully to him. 

The lion utters a fearful roar. The Emperor dashes 
madly up the steps, across the landing, and down again 
on the other side, with the lion in hot pursuit. Androcles 
rushes after the lion; overtakes him as he is descending; 
and throws himself on his bach, trying to use his toes as 
a brake. Before he can stop him the lion gets hold of 
the trailing end of the Emperor's robe. 

Androcles. Oh bad wicked Tommy, to chase the 
Emperor like that! Let go the Emperor's robe at once, 
sir: wheres your manners? (The lion growls and worries 
the robe). Dont pull it away from him, your worship. 
Hes only playing. Now I shall be really angry with 
you, Tommy, if you dont let go. (The lion growls 
again) I'll tell you what it is, sir: he thinks you and I 
are not friends. 

The Emperor (trying to undo the clasp of his brooch) 
Friends! You infernal scoundrel (the lion growls) — 
dont let him go. Curse this brooch ! I cant get it loose. 

Androcles. We mustnt let him lash himself into a 
rage. You must shew him that you are my particular 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 49 

friend — if you will have the condescension. (He seizes 
the Emperor's hands and shakes them cordially) . Look, 
Tommy: the nice Emperor is the dearest friend Andy 
Wandy has in the whole world: he loves him like a 

The Emperor. You little brute, you damned filthy 
little dog of a Greek tailor : I'll have you burnt alive for 
daring to touch the divine person of the Emperor. (The 
lion growls). 

Androcles. Oh dont talk like that, sir. He under- 
stands every word you say: all animals do: they take it 
from the tone of your voice. (The lion growls and lashes 
his tail). I think hes going to spring at your worship. 
If you wouldnt mind saying something affectionate. 
(The lion roars). 

The Emperor (shaking Androcles 3 hands frantic- 
ally) My dearest Mr. Androcles, my sweetest friend, 
my long lost brother, come to my arms. (He embraces 
Androcles). Oh, what an abominable smell of garlic! 

The lion lets go the robe and rolls over on his back, 
clasping his forepaws over one another coquettishly above 
his nose. 

Androcles. There! You see, your worship, a child 
might play with him now. See! (He tickles the lion's 
belly. The lion wriggles ecstatically). Come and pet 

The Emperor. I must conquer these unkingly terrors. 
Mind you dont go away from him, though. (He pats 
the lion's chest). 

Androcles. Oh, sir, how few men would have the 
courage to do that ! 

The Emperor. Yes: it takes a bit of nerve. Let us 
have the Court in and frighten them. Is he safe, do you 

Androcles. Quite safe now, sir. 

The Emperor (majestically) What ho, there! All 

50 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

who are within hearing, return without iear. Caesar has 
tamed the lion. (All the fugitives steal cautiously in. 
The menagerie keeper comes from the passage with 
other keepers armed with iron bars and tridents). Take 
those things away. I have subdued the beast. (He places 
his foot on it). 

Ferrovius (timidly approaching the Emperor and 
looking down with awe on the lion) It is strange that 
I, who fear no man, should fear a lion. 

The Captain. Every man fears something, Ferrovius. 

The Emperor. How about the Pretorian Guard now ? 

Ferr vius. In my youth I worshipped Mars, the God 
of War. I turned from him to serve the Christian god; 
but today the Christian god forsook me; and Mars over- 
came me and took back his own. The Christian god is 
not yet. He will come when Mars and I are dust; but 
meanwhile I must serve the gods that are, not the God 
that will be. Until then I accept service in the Guard, 

The Emperor. Very wisely said. All really sensible 
men agree that the prudent course is to be neither bigoted 
in our attachment to the old nor rash and unpractical in 
keeping an open mind for the new, but to make the best 
of both dispensations. 

The Captain. What do you say, Lavinia? Will you 
too be prudent? 

Lavinia (on the stair) No: I'll strive for the coming 
of the God who is not yet. 

The Captain. May I come and argue with you occa- 
sionally ? 

Lavinia. Yes, handsome Captain: you may. (He 
kisses her hands). 

The Emperor. And now, my friends, though I do not, 
as you see, fear this lion, yet the strain of his presence 
is considerable; for none of us can feel quite sure what 
he will do next. 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 51 

The Menagerie Keeper. Caesar: give us this Greek 
sorcerer to be a^slave in the menagerie. He has a way 
with the beasts. 

Androcles (distressed). Not if they are in cages. 
They should not be kept in cages. They must all be 
let out. 

The Emperor. I give this sorcerer to be a slave to 
the first man who lays hands on him. (The menagerie 
keepers and the gladiators rush for Androcles. The lion 
starts up and faces them. They surge back). You see 
how magnanimous we Romans are, Androcles. We suffer 
you to go in peace. ° 

Androcles. I thank your worship. I thank you all, 
ladies, and gentlemen. Come, Tommy. Whilst we stand 
together, no cage for you: no slavery for me. (He goes 
out with the lion, everybody crowding away to give him 
as wide a berth as possible). 

. In this play I have represented one of the Roman per- 
secutions of the early Christians, not as the conflict of a 
false theology with a true, but as what all such persecu- 
tions essentially are: an attempt to suppress a propa- 
ganda that seemed to threaten the interests involved in 
the established law and order, organized and maintained 
in the name of religion and justice by politicians who 
are pure opportunist Have-and-Holders. People who are 
shewn by their inner light the possibility of a better world 
based on the demand of the spirit for a nobler and more 
abundant life, not for themselves at the expense of others, 
but for everybody, are naturally dreaded and therefore 
hated by the Have-and-Holders, who keep always in re- 
serve two sure weapons against them. The first is a 
persecution effected by the provocation, organization, and 
arming of that herd instinct which makes men abhor all 

52 Androcles and the Lion 

departures from custom, and, by the most cruel punish- 
ments and the wildest calumnies, force eccentric people 
to behave and profess exactly as other people do. The 
second is by leading the herd to war, which immediately 
and infallibly makes them forget everything, even their 
most cherished and hardwon public liberties and private 
interests, in the irresistible surge of their pugnacity and 
the tense pre-occupation of their terror. 

There is no reason to believe that there was anything 
more in the Roman persecutions than this. The attitude 
of the Roman Emperor and the officers of his staff to- 
wards the opinions at issue were much the same as those 
of a modern British Home Secretary towards members of 
the lower middle classes when some pious policeman 
charges them with Bad Taste, technically called blas- 
phemy: Bad Taste being a violation of Good Taste, 
which in such matters practically means Hypocrisy. The 
Home Secretary and the judges who try the case are 
usually far more sceptical and blasphemous than the poor 
men whom they persecute ; and their professions of horror 
at the blunt utterance of their own opinions are revolting 
to those behind the scenes who have any genuine re- 
ligious sensibility ; but the thing is done because the gov- 
erning classes, provided only the law against blasphemy 
is not applied to themselves, strongly approve of such 
persecution because it enables them to represent their 
own privileges as part of the religion of the country. 

Therefore my martyrs are the martyrs of all time, and 
my persecutors the persecutors of all time. My Em- 
peror, who has no sense of the value of common people's 
lives, and amuses himself with killing as carelessly as 
with sparing, is the sort of monster you can make of any 
silly-clever gentleman by idolizing him. We are still so 
easily imposed on by such idols that one of the leading 
pastors of the Free Churches in London denounced my 
play on the ground that my persecuting Emperor is a 

Androcles and the Lion 53 

very fine fellow, and the persecuted Christians ridiculous. 
From which I conclude that a popular pulpit may be as 
perilous to a man's soul as an imperial throne. 

All my articulate Christians, the reader will notice, 
have different enthusiasms, which they accept as the same 
religion only because it involves them in a common op- 
position to the official religion and consequently in a com- 
mon doom. Androcles is a humanitarian naturalist, 
whose views surprise everybody. Lavinia, a clever and 
fearless freethinker, shocks the Pauline Ferrovius, who 
is comparatively stupid and conscience ridden. Spintho, 
the blackguardly debauchee, is presented as one of the 
typical Christians of that period on the authority of St. 
Augustine, who seems to have come to the conclusion at 
one period of his development that most Christians were 
what we call wrong uns. No doubt he was to some extent 
right : I have had occasion often to point out that revolu- 
tionary movements attract those who are not good enough 
for established institutions as well as those who are too 
good for them. 

But the most striking aspect of the play at this moment 
is the terrible topicality given it by the war. We were 
at peace when I pointed out, by the mouth of Ferrovius, 
the path of an honest man who finds out, when the trump- 
et sounds, that he cannot follow Jesus. Many years ear- 
lier, in The Devil's Disciple, I touched the same theme 
even more definitely, and shewed the minister throwing off 
his black coat for ever when he discovered, amid the thun- 
der of the captains and the shouting, that he was a born 
fighter. Great numbers of our clergy have found them- 
selves of late in the position of Ferrovius and Anthony 
Anderson. They have discovered that they hate not only 
their enemies but everyone who does not share their 
hatred, and that they want to fight and to force other 
people to fight. They have turned their churches into 
recruiting stations and their vestries into munition work- 

54 Androcles and the Lion 

shops. But it has never occurred to them to take off their 
black coats and say quite simply, "I find in the hour of 
trial that the Sermon on the Mount is tosh, and that I am 
not a Christian. I apologize for all the unpatriotic non- 
sense I have been preaching all these years. Have the 
goodness to give me a revolver and a commission in a 
regiment which has for its chaplain a priest of the god 
Mars: my God." Not a bit of it. They have stuck to 
their livings and served Mars in the name of Christ, to 
the scandal of all religious mankind. When the Arch- 
bishop of York behaved like a gentleman and the Head 
Master of Eton preached a Christian sermon, and were 
reviled by the rabble, the Martian parsons encouraged 
the rabble. For this they made no apologies or excuses, 
good or bad. They simple indulged their passions, just 
as they had always indulged their class prejudices and 
commercial interests, without troubling themselves for a 
moment as to whether they were Christians or not. They 
did not protest even when a body calling itself the Anti- 
German League (not having noticed, apparently, that it 
had been anticipated by the British Empire, the French 
Republic, and the Kingdoms of Italy, Japan, and Serbia) 
actually succeeded in closing a church at Forest Hill in 
which God was worshipped in the German language. 
One would have supposed that this grotesque outrage on 
the commonest decencies of religion would have provoked 
a remonstrance from even the worldliest bench of bishops. 
But no: apparently it seemed to the bishops as natural 
that the House of God should be looted when He allowed 
German to be spoken in it as that a baker's shop with a 
German name over the door should be pillaged. Their 
verdict was, in effect, "Serve God right, for creating the 
Germans !" The incident would have been impossible in 
a country where the Church was as powerful as the 
Church of England, had it had at the same time a spark 
of catholic as distinguished from tribal religion in it. 

Androcles and the Lion 55 

As it is, the thing occurred ; and as far as I have observed, 
the only people who gasped were the Freethinkers. 

Thus we see that even among men who make a pro- 
fession of religion the great majority are as Martian as 
the majority of their congregations. The average clergy- 
man is an official who makes his living by christening 
babies, marrying adults, conducting a ritual, and making 
the best he can (when he has any conscience about it) of 
a certain routine of school superintendence, district visit- 
ing, and organization of almsgiving, which does not 
necessarily touch Christianity at any point except the 
point of the tongue. The exceptional or religious clergy- 
man may be an ardent Pauline Salvationist, in which case 
his more cultivated parishioners dislike him, and say that 
he ought to have joined the Methodists. Or he may be 
an artist expressing religious emotion without intellectual 
definition by means of poetry, music, vestments and 
architecture, also producing religious ecstacy by physical 
expedients, such as fasts and vigils, in which case he is 
denounced as a Ritualist. Or he may be either a Uni- 
tarian Deist like Voltaire or Tom Paine, or the more 
modern sort of Anglican Theosophist to whom the Holy 
Ghost is the Elan Vital of Bergson, and the Father and 
Son are an expression of the fact that our functions and 
aspects are manifold, and that we are all sons and all 
either potential or actual parents, in which case he is 
strongly suspected by the straiter Salvationists of being 
little better than an Atheist. All these varieties, you see, 
excite remark. They may be very popular with their con- 
gregations ; but they are regarded by the average man as 
the freaks of the Church. The Church, like the society 
of which it is an organ, is balanced and steadied by the 
great central Philistine mass above whom theology looms 
as a highly spoken of and doubtless most important 
thing, like Greek Tragedy, or classical music, or the high- 
er mathematics, but who are very glad when church is 

56 Androcles and the Lion 

over and they can go home to lunch or dinner, having in 
fact, for all practical purposes, no reasoned convictions 
at all, and being equally ready to persecute a poor Free- 
thinker for saying that St. James was not infallible, and 
to send one of the Peculiar People to prison for being so 
very peculiar as to take St. James seriously. 

In short, a Christian martyr was thrown to the lions 
not because he was a Christian, but because he was a 
crank: that is, an unusual sort of person. And multi- 
tudes of people, quite as civilized and amiable as we, 
crowded to see the lions eat him just as they now crowd 
the lion-house in the Zoo at feeding-time, not because they 
really cared two-pence about Diana or Christ, or could 
have given you any intelligent or correct account of the 
things Diana and Christ stood against one another for, 
but simply because they wanted to see a curious and ex- 
citing spectacle. You, dear reader, have probably run to 
see a fire ; and if somebody came in now and told you that 
a lion was chasing a man down the street you would rush 
to the window. And if anyone were to say that you were 
as cruel as the people who let the lion loose on the man, 
you would be justly indignant. Now that we may no 
longer see a man hanged, we assemble outside the jail 
to see the black flag run up. That is our duller method 
of enjoying ourselves in the old Roman spirit. And if 
the Government decided to throw persons of unpopular or 
eccentric views to the lions in the Albert Hall or the 
Earl's Court stadium tomorrow, can you doubt that all 
the seats would be crammed, mostly by people who could 
not give you the most superficial account of the views 
in question. Much less unlikely things have happened. 
It is true that if such a revival does take place soon, the 
martyrs will not be members of heretical religious sects: 
they will be Peculiars, Anti-Vivisectionists, Flat-Earth 
men, scoffers at the laboratories, or infidels who refuse to 
kneel down when a procession of doctors goes by. But 

Androcles and the Lion 57 

the lions will hurt them just as much, and the spectators 
will enjoy themselves just as much, as the Roman lions 
and spectators used to do. 

It was currently reported in the Berlin newspapers 
that when Androcles was first performed in Berlin, the 
Crown Prince rose and left the house, unable to endure 
the (I hope) very clear and fair exposition of autocratic 
Imperialism given by the Roman captain to his Christian 
prisoners. No English Imperialist was intelligent and 
earnest enough to do the same in London. If the report 
is correct, I confirm the logic of the Crown Prince, and 
am glad to find myself so well understood. But I can 
assure him that the Empire which served for my model 
when I wrote Androcles was, as he is now finding to his 
cost, much nearer my home than the German one. 




The Alleviations of Monogamy. 

This piece is not an argument for or against polygamy. 
It is a clinical study of how the thing actually occurs 
among quite ordinary people, innocent of all unconven- 
tional views concerning it. The enormous majority of 
cases in real life are those of people in that position. 
Those who deliberately and conscientiously profess what 
are oddly called advanced views by those others who 
believe them to be retrograde, are often, and indeed most- 
ly, the last people in the world to engage in uncon- 
ventional adventures of any kind, not only because they 
have neither time nor disposition for them, but because 
the friction set up between the individual and the com- 
munity by the expression of unusual views of any sort 
is quite enough hindrance to the heretic without being 
complicated by personal scandals. Thus the theoretic 
libertine is usually a person of blameless family life, 
whilst the practical libertine is mercilessly severe on all 
other libertines, and excessively conventional in profes- 
sions of social principle. 

What is more, these professions are not hypocritical: 
they are for the most part quite sincere. The common 
libertine, like the drunkard, succumbs to a temptation 
which he does not defend, and against which he warns 
others with an earnestness proportionate to the intensity 
of his own remorse. He (or she) may be a liar and a 
humbug, pretending to be better than the detected lib- 
ertines, and clamoring for their condign punishment; 


62 Preface to Overruled 

but this is mere self-defence. No reasonable person ex- 
pects the burglar to confess his pursuits, or to refrain 
from joining in the cry of Stop Thief when the police 
get on the track of another burglar. If society chooses 
to penalize candor, it has itself to thank if its attack is 
countered by falsehood. The clamorous virtue of the 
libertine is therefore no more hypocritical than the plea 
of Not Guilty which is allowed to every criminal. But 
one result is that the theorists who write most sincerely 
and favorably about polygamy know least about it; and 
the practitioners who know most about it keep their 
knowledge very jealously to themselves. Which is hard- 
ly fair to the practice. 

Inaccessibility of the Facts. 

Also it is impossible to estimate its prevalence. A 
practice to which nobody confesses may be both uni- 
versal and unsuspected, just as a virtue which everybody 
is expected, under heavy penalties, to claim, may have 
no existence. It is often assumed — indeed it is the offi- 
cial assumption of the Churches and the divorce courts — 
that a gentleman and a lady cannot be alone together 
innocently. And that is manifest blazing nonsense, 
though many women have been stoned to death in the 
east, and divorced in the west, on the strength of it. On 
the other hand, the innocent and conventional people who 
regard the gallant adventures as crimes of so horrible a 
nature that only the most depraved and desperate char- 
acters engage in them or would listen to advances in that 
direction without raising an alarm with the noisiest indig- 
nation, are clearly examples of the fact that most sections 
of society do not know how the other sections live. In- 
dustry is the most effective check on gallantry. Women 
may, as Napoleon said, be the occupation of the idle man 
just as men are the preoccupation of the idle woman; but 

Preface to Overruled 63 

the mass of mankind is too busy and too poor for the long 
and expensive sieges which the professed libertine lays 
to virtue. Still, wherever there is idleness or even a rea- 
sonable supply of elegant leisure there is a good deal of 
coquetry and philandering. It is so much pleasanter to 
dance on the edge of a precipice than to go over it that 
leisured society is full of people who spend a great part 
of their lives in flirtation, and conceal nothing but the 
humiliating secret that they have never gone any further. 
For there is no pleasing people in the matter of repu- 
tation in this department : every insult is a flattery ; every 
testimonial is a disparagement: Joseph is despised and 
promoted, Potiphar's wife admired and condemned: in 
short, you are never on solid ground until you get away 
from the subject altogether. There is a continual and 
irreconcilable conflict between the natural and conven- 
tional sides of the case, between spontaneous human 
relations between independent men and women on the 
one hand and the property relation between husband and 
wife on the other, not to mention the confusion under the 
common name of love of a generous natural attraction 
and interest with the murderous jealousy that fastens 
on and clings to its mate (especially a hated mate) as a 
tiger fastens on a carcase. And the confusion is natural ; 
for these extremes are extremes of the same passion; and 
most cases lie somewhere on the scale between them, and 
are so complicated by ordinary likes and dislikes, by inci- 
dental wounds to vanity or gratifications of it, and by 
class feeling, that A will be jealous of B and not of C, 
and will tolerate infidelities on the part of D whilst being 
furiously angry when they are committed by E. 

The Convention of Jealousy. 

That jealousy is independent of sex is shewn by its 
intensity in children, and by the fact that very jealous 

64 Preface to Overruled 

people are jealous of everybody without regard to rela- 
tionship or sex, and cannot bear to hear the person they 
"love" speak favorably of anyone under any circumstances 
(many women, for instance, are much more jealous of 
their husbands' mothers and sisters than of unrelated wo- 
men whom they suspect him of fancying) ; but it is seldom 
possible to disentangle the two passions in practice. Be- 
sides, jealousy is an inculcated passion, forced by society 
on people in whom it would not occur spontaneously. In 
Brieux's Bourgeois aux Champs, the benevolent hero finds 
himself detested by the neighboring peasants and farmers, 
not because he preserves game, and sets mantraps for 
poachers, and defends his legal rights over his land to the 
extremest point of unsocial savagery, but because, being 
an amiable and public-spirited person, he refuses to do all 
this, and thereby offends and disparages the sense of 
property in his neighbors. The same thing is true of 
matrimonial jealousy; the man who does not at least pre- 
tend to feel it and behave as badly as if he really felt it is 
despised and insulted; and many a man has shot or 
stabbed a friend or been shot or stabbed by him in a duel, 
or disgraced himself and ruined his own wife in a divorce 
scandal, against his conscience, against his instinct, and 
to the destruction of his home, solely because Society 
conspired to drive him to keep its own lower morality in 
countenance in this miserable and undignified manner. 

Morality is confused in such matters. In an elegant 
plutocracy, a jealous husband is regarded as a boor. 
Among the tradesmen who supply that plutocracy with its 
meals, a husband who is not jealous, and refrains from as- 
sailing his rival with his fists, is regarded as a ridiculous, 
contemptible and cowardly cuckold. And the laboring 
class is divided into the respectable section which takes 
the tradesman's view, and the disreputable section which 
enjoys the license of the plutocracy without its money: 
creeping below the law as its exemplars prance above 

Preface to Overruled 65 

it; cutting down all expenses of respectability and even 
decency; and frankly accepting squalor and disrepute as 
the price of anarchic self-indulgence. The conflict be- 
tween Malvolio and Sir Toby, between the marquis and 
the bourgeois, the cavalier and the puritan, the ascetic and 
the voluptuary, goes on continually, and goes on not only 
between class and class and individual and individual, 
but in the selfsame breast in a series of reactions and 
revulsions in which the irresistible becomes the unbear- 
able, and the unbearable the irresistible, until none of us 
can say what our characters really are in this respect. 

The Missing Data of a Scientific Natural 
History of Marriage. 

Of one thing I am persuaded : we shall never attain to 
a reasonable healthy public opinion on sex questions until 
we offer, as the data for that opinion, our actual conduct 
and our real thoughts instead of a moral fiction which 
we agree to call virtuous conduct, and which we then — 
and here comes in the mischief — pretend is our conduct 
and our thoughts. If the result were that we all believed 
one another to be better than we really are, there would be 
something to be said for it ; but the actual result appears 
to be a monstrous exaggeration of the power and conti- 
nuity of sexual passion. The whole world shares the fate 
of Lucrezia Borgia, who, though she seems on investiga- 
tion to have been quite a suitable wife for a modern British 
Bishop, has been invested by the popular historical im- 
agination with all the extravagances of a Messalina or a 
Cenci. Writers of belles lettres who are rash enough 
to admit that their whole life is not one constant preoc- 
cupation with adored members of the opposite sex, and 
who even countenance La Rochefoucauld's remark that 
very few people would ever imagine themselves in love if 

66 Preface to Overruled 

they had never read anything about it, are gravely de- 
clared to be abnormal or physically defective by critics 
of crushing unadventurousness and domestication. French 
authors of saintly temperament are forced to include 
in their retinue countesses of ardent complexion with 
whom they are supposed to live in sin. Sentimental con- 
troversies on the subject are endless; but they are useless, 
because nobody tells the truth. Rousseau did it by an 
extraordinary effort, aided by a superhuman faculty for 
human natural history, but the result was curiously discon- 
certing because, though the facts were so conventionally 
shocking that people felt that they ought to matter a great 
deal, they actually mattered very little. And even at that 
everybody pretends not to believe him. 

Artificial Retribution. 

The worst of that is that busybodies with perhaps 
rather more than a normal taste for mischief are continu- 
ally trying to make negligible things matter as much in 
fact as they do in convention by deliberately inflicting 
injuries — sometimes atrocious injuries — on the parties 
concerned. Few people have any knowledge of the sav- 
age punishments that are legally inflicted for aberrations 
and absurdities to which no sanely instructed community 
would call any attention. We create an artificial moral- 
ity, and consequently an artificial conscience, by manu- 
facturing disastrous consequences for events which, left 
to themselves, would do very little harm (sometimes not 
any) and be forgotten in a few days. 

But the artificial morality is not therefore to be con- 
demned offhand. In many cases it may save mischief 
instead of making it: for example, though the hanging of 
a murderer is the duplication of a murder, yet it may be 
less murderous than leaving the matter to be settled by 
blood feud or vendetta. As long as human nature insists 

Preface to Overruled 67 

on revenge, the official organization and satisfaction of 
revenge by the State may be also its minimization. The 
mischief begins when the official revenge persists after the 
passion it satisfies has died out of the race. Stoning a 
woman to death in the east because she has ventured to 
marry again after being deserted by her husband may be 
more merciful than allowing her to be mobbed to death; 
but the official stoning or burning of an adulteress in the 
west would be an atrocity because few of us hate an 
adulteress to the extent of desiring such a penalty, or of 
being prepared to take the law into our own hands if it 
were withheld. Now what applies to this extreme case 
applies also in due degree to the other cases. Offences in 
which sex is concerned are often needlessly magnified by 
penalties, ranging from various forms of social ostracism 
to long sentences of penal servitude, which would be seen 
to be monstrously disproportionate to the real feeling 
against them if the removal of both the penalties and the 
taboo on their discussion made it possible for us to ascer- 
tain their real prevalence and estimation. Fortunately 
there is one outlet for the truth. We are permitted to 
discuss in jest what we may not discuss in earnest. A 
serious comedy about sex is taboo: a farcical comedy is 

The Favorite Subject of Farcical Comedy. 

The little piece which follows this preface accordingly 
takes the form of a farcical comedy, because it is a con- 
tribution to the very extensive dramatic literature which 
takes as its special department the gallantries of married 
people. The stage has been preoccupied by such affairs 
for centuries, not only in the jesting vein of Restoration 
Comedy and Palais Royal farce, but in the more tragically 
turned adulteries of the Parisian school which dominated 
the stage until Ibsen put them out of countenance and 

68 Preface to Overruled 

relegated them to their proper place as articles of com- 
merce. Their continued vogue in that department main- 
tains the tradition that adultery is the dramatic subject 
par excellence, and indeed that a play that is not about 
adultery is not a play at all. I was considered a heresi- 
arch of the most extravagant kind when I expressed my 
opinion at the outset of my career as a playwright, that 
adultery is the dullest of themes on the stage, and that 
from Francesca and Paolo down to the latest guilty couple 
of the school of Dumas fils, the romantic adulterers have 
all been intolerable bores. 

The Pseudo Sex Play. 

Later on, I had occasion to point out to the defenders 
of sex as the proper theme of drama, that though they 
were right in ranking sex as an intensely interesting sub- 
ject, they were wrong in assuming that sex is an indis- 
pensable motive in popular plays. The plays of Moliere 
are, like the novels of the Victorian epoch or Don Quixote, 
as nearly sexless as anything not absolutely inhuman can 
be ; and some of Shakespear's plays are sexually on a par 
with the census : they contain women as well as men, and 
that is all. This had to be admitted; but it was still 
assumed that the plays of the XIX century Parisian 
school are, in contrast with the sexless masterpieces, sat- 
urated with sex; and this I strenuously denied. A play 
about the convention that a man should fight a duel or 
come to fisticuffs with his wife's lover if she has one, or 
the convention that he should strangle her like Othello, or 
turn her out of the house and never see her or allow her 
to see her children again, or the convention that she should 
never be spoken to again by any decent person and should 
finally drown herself, or the convention that persons in- 
volved in scenes of recrimination or confession by these 
conventions should call each other certain abusive names 

Preface to Overruled 69 

and describe their conduct as guilty and frail and so on: 
all these may provide material for very effective plays; 
but such plays are not dramatic studies of sex : one might 
as well say that Romeo and Juliet is a dramatic study of 
pharmacy because the catastrophe is brought about 
through an apothecary. Duels are not sex ; divorce cases 
are not sex; the Trade Unionism of married women is not 
sex. Only the most insignificant fraction of the gallan- 
tries of married people produce any of the conventional 
results ; and plays occupied wholly with the conventional 
results are therefore utterly unsatisfying as sex plays, 
however interesting they may be as plays of intrigue and 
plot puzzles. 

The world is finding this out rapidly. The Sunday 
papers, which in the days when they appealed almost 
exclusively to the lower middle class were crammed with 
police intelligence, and more especially with divorce and 
murder cases, now lay no stress on them; and police 
papers which confined themselves entirely to such matters, 
and were once eagerly read, have perished through the 
essential dulness of their topics. And yet the interest 
in sex is stronger than ever: in fact, the literature 
that has driven out the journalism of the divorce courts 
is a literature occupied with sex to an extent and with 
an intimacy and frankness that would have seemed utterly 
impossible to Thackeray or Dickens if they had been told 
that the change would complete itself within fifty years 
of their own time. 

Art and Morality. 

It is ridiculous to say, as inconsiderate amateurs of the 
arts do, that art has nothing to do with morality. What is 
true is that the artist's business is not that of the police- 
man; and that such factitious consequences and put-up 
jobs as divorces and executions and the detective opera- 

70 Preface to Overruled 

tions that lead up to them are no essential part of life, 
though, like poisons and buttered slides and red-hot 
pokers, they provide material for plenty of thrilling or 
amusing stories suited to people who are incapable of any 
interest in psychology. But the fine artists must keep the 
policeman out of his studies of sex and studies of crime. 
It is by clinging nervously to the policeman that most of 
the pseudo sex plays convince me that the writers have 
either never had any serious personal experience of their 
ostensible subject, or else have never conceived it possi- 
ble that the stage door present the phenomena of sex as 
they appear in nature. 

The Limits of Stage Presentation. 

But the stage presents much more shocking phenomena 
than those of sex. There is, of course, a sense in which 
you cannot present sex on the stage, just as you cannot 
present murder. Macbeth must no more really kill Dun- 
can than he must himself be really slain by Macduff. But 
the feelings of a murderer can be expressed in a certain 
artistic convention; and a carefully prearranged sword 
exercise can be gone through with sufficient pretence of 
earnestness to be accepted by the willing imaginations 
of the younger spectators as a desperate combat. 

The tragedy of love has been presented on the stage in 
the same way. In Tristan and Isolde, the curtain does 
not, as in Romeo and Juliet, rise with the lark : the whole 
night of love is played before the spectators. The lovers 
do not discuss marriage in an elegantly sentimental way : 
they utter the visions and feelings that come to lovers at 
the supreme moments of their love, totally forgetting that 
there are such things in the world as husbands and law- 
yers and duelling codes and theories of sin and notions of 
propriety and all the other irrelevancies which provide 

Preface to Overruled 71 

hackneyed and bloodless material for our so-called plays 
of passion. 

Pruderies of the French Stage. 

To all stage presentations there are limits. If Macduff 
were to stab Macbeth, the spectacle would be intolerable ; 
and even the pretence which we allow on our stage is 
ridiculously destructive to the illusion of the scene. Yet 
pugilists and gladiators will actually fight and kill in pub- 
lic without sham, even as a spectacle for money. But no 
sober couple of lovers of any delicacy could endure to be 
watched. We in England, accustomed to consider the 
French stage much more licentious than the British, are 
always surprised and puzzled when we learn, as we may 
do any day if we come within reach of such information, 
that French actors are often scandalized by what they con- 
sider the indecency of the English stage, and that French 
actresses who desire a greater license in appealing to the 
sexual instincts than the French stage allows them, learn 
and establish themselves on the English stage. The Ger- 
man and Russian stages are in the same relation to the 
French and perhaps more or less all the Latin stages. The 
reason is that, partly from a want of respect for the 
theatre, partly from a sort of respect for art in general 
which moves them to accord moral privileges to artists, 
partly from the very objectionable tradition that the 
realm of art is Alsatia and the contemplation of works 
of art a holiday from the burden of virtue, partly be- 
cause French prudery does not attach itself to the same 
points of behavior as British prudery, and has a dif- 
ferent code of the mentionable and the unmentionable, 
and for many other reasons the French tolerate plays 
which are never performed in England until they have 
been spoiled by a process of bowdlerization ; yet French 
taste is more fastidious than ours as to the exhibition and 

7£ Preface to Overruled 

treatment on the stage of the physical incidents of sex. 
On the French stage a kiss is as obvious a convention as 
the thrust under the arm by which Macduff runs Macbeth 
through. It is even a purposely unconvincing conven- 
tion : the actors rather insisting that it shall be impossible 
for any spectator to mistake a stage kiss for a real one. 
In England, on the contrary, realism is carried to the 
point at which nobody except the two performers can per- 
ceive that the caress is not genuine. And here the Eng- 
lish stage is certainly in the right ; for whatever question 
there arises as to what incidents are proper for represen- 
tation on the stage or not, my experience as a playgoer 
leaves me in no doubt that once it is decided to represent 
an incident, it will be offensive, no matter whether it be a 
prayer or a kiss, unless it is presented with a convincing 
appearance of sincerity. 

Our Disillusive Scenery. 

For example, the main objection to the use of illusive 
scenery (in most modern plays scenery is not illusive; 
everything visible is as real as in your drawing room at 
home) is that it is unconvincing; whilst the imaginary 
scenery with which the audience provides a platform or 
tribune like the Elizabethan stage or the Greek stage used 
by Sophocles, is quite convincing. In fact, the more 
scenery you have the less illusion you produce. The wise 
playwright, when he cannot get absolute reality of pres- 
entation, goes to the other extreme, and aims at atmos- 
phere and suggestion of mood rather than at direct simu- 
lative illusion. The theatre, as I first knew it, was a place 
of wings and flats which destroyed both atmosphere and 
illusion. This was tolerated, and even intensely enjoyed, 
but not in the least because nothing better was possible ; 
for all the devices employed in the productions of Mr. 
Granville Barker or Max Reinhardt or the Moscow Art 

Preface to Overruled 73 

Theatre were equally available for Colley Cibber and 
Garrick, except the intensity of our artificial light. When 
Oarrick played Richard II in slashed trunk hose and 
plumes, it was not because he believed that the Plantag- 
enets dressed like that, or because the costumers could 
not have made him a XV century dress as easily as a 
nondescript combination of the state robes of George III 
with such scraps of older fashions as seemed to playgoers 
for some reason to be romantic. The charm of the the- 
atre in those days was its makebelieve. It has that charm 
still, not only for the amateurs, who are happiest when 
they are most unnatural and impossible and absurd, but 
for audiences as well. I have seen performances of my 
own plays which were to me far wilder burlesques than 
Sheridan's Critic or Buckingham's Rehearsal; yet they 
have produced sincere laughter and tears such as the most 
finished metropolitan productions have failed to elicit. 
Fielding was entirely right when he represented Partridge 
as enjoying intensely the performance of the king in 
Hamlet because anybody could see that the king was an 
actor, and resenting Garrick' s Hamlet because it might 
have been a real man. Yet we have only to look at the 
portraits of Garrick to see that his performances would 
nowadays seem almost as extravagantly stagey as his 
costumes. In our day Calve's intensely real Carmen 
never pleased the mob as much as the obvious fancy 
ball masquerading of suburban young ladies in the same 

Holding the Mirror up to Nature. 

Theatrical art begins as the holding up to Nature of a 
distorting mirror. In this phase it pleases people who 
are childish enough to believe that they can see what they 
look like and what they are when they look at a true 
mirror. Naturally they think that a true mirror can teach 

74 Preface to Overruled 

them nothing. Only by giving them back some mon- 
strous image can the mirror amuse them or terrify them. 
It is not until they grow up to the point at which they 
learn that they know very little about themselves, and that 
they do not see themselves in a true mirror as other peo- 
ple see them, that they become consumed with curiosity 
as to what they really are like, and begin to demand that 
the stage shall be a mirror of such accuracy and intensity 
of illumination that they shall be able to get glimpses of 
their real selves in it, and also learn a little how they 
appear to other people. 

For audiences of this highly developed class, sex can no 
longer be ignored or conventionalized or distorted by the 
playwright who makes the mirror. The old sentimental 
extravagances and the old grossnesses are of no further 
use to him. Don Giovanni and Zerlina are not gross: 
Tristan and Isolde are not extravagant or sentimental. 
They say and do nothing that you cannot bear to hear 
and see; and yet they give you, the one pair briefly and 
slightly, and the other fully and deeply, what passes in 
the minds of lovers. The love depicted may be that of 
a philosophic adventurer tempting an ignorant country 
girl, or of a tragically serious poet entangled with a wo- 
man of noble capacity in a passion which has become for 
them the reality of the whole universe. No matter: the 
thing is dramatized and dramatized directly, not talked 
about as something that happened before the curtain rose, 
or that will happean after it falls* 

Farcical Comedy Shirking its Subject. 

Now if all this can be done in the key of tragedy and 
philosophic comedy, it can, I have always contended, be 
done in the key of farcical comedy; and Overruled is a 
trifling experiment in that manner. Conventional farcical 
comedies are always finally tedious because the heart of 

Preface to Overruled 75 

them, the inevitable conjugal infidelity, is always evaded. 
Even its consequences are evaded. Mr. Granville Barker 
has pointed out rightly that if the third acts of our 
farcical comedies dared to describe the consequences that 
would follow from the first and second in real life, they 
would end as squalid tragedies; and in my opinion they 
would be greatly improved thereby even as entertain- 
ments; for I have never seen a three-act farcical comedy 
without being bored and tired by the third act, and 
observing that the rest of the audience were in the same 
condition, though they were not vigilantly introspective 
enough to find that out, and were apt to blame one 
another, especially the husbands and wives, for their 
crossness. But it is happily by no means true that con- 
jugal infidelities always produce tragic consequences, or 
that they need produce even the unhappiness which they 
often do produce. Besides, the more momentous the con- 
sequences, the more interesting become the impulses and 
imaginations and reasonings, if any, of the people who 
disregard them. If I had an opportunity of conversing 
with the ghost of an executed murderer, I have no doubt 
he would begin to tell me eagerly about his trial, with the 
names of the distinguished ladies and gentlemen who 
honored him with them presence on that occasion, and 
then about his execution. All of which would bore me 
exceedingly. I should say, "My dear sir: such manu- 
factured ceremonies do not interest me in the least. I 
know how a man is tried, and how he is hanged. I should 
have had you killed in a much less disgusting, hypocriti- 
cal, and unfriendly manner if the matter had been in my 
hands. What I want to know about is the murder. How 
did you feel when you committed it ? Why did you do it ? 
What did you say to yourself about it? If, like most 
murderers, you had not been hanged, would you have com- 
mitted other murders? Did you really dislike the vic- 
tim, or did you want his money, or did you murder a per- 

76 Preface to Overruled 

son whom you did not dislike, and from whose death you 
had nothing to gain, merely for the sake of murdering? 
If so, can you describe the charm to me? Does it come 
upon you periodically; or is it chronic? Has curiosity 
anything to do with it ?" I would ply him with all man- 
ner of questions to find out what murder is really like; 
and I should not be satisfied until I had realized that I, 
too, might commit a murder, or else that there is some 
specific quality present in a murderer and lacking in me. 
And, if so, what that quality is. 

In just the same way, I want the unfaithful husband or 
the unfaithful wife in a farcical comedy not to bother me 
with their divorce cases or the stratagems they employ to 
avoid a divorce case, but to tell me how and why married 
couples are unfaithful. I don't want to hear the lies they 
tell one another to conceal what they have done, but the 
truths they tell one another when they have to face 
what they have done without concealment or excuse. No 
doubt prudent and considerate people conceal such ad- 
ventures, when they can, from those who are most likely 
to be wounded by them ; but it is not to be presumed that, 
when found out, they necessarily disgrace themselves by 
irritating lies and transparent subterfuges. 

My playlet, which I offer as a model to all future 
writers of farcical comedy, may now, I hope, be read with- 
out shock. I may just add that Mr. Sibthorpe Juno's 
view that morality demands, not that we should behave 
morally (an impossibility to our sinful nature) but that 
we shall not attempt to defend our immoralities, is a 
standard view in England, and was advanced in all seri- 
ousness by an earnest and distinguished British moralist 
shortly after the first performance of Overruled. My 
objection to that aspect of the doctrine of original sin 
is that no necessary and inevitable operation of human 
nature can reasonably be regarded as sinful at all, and 
that a morality which assumes the contrary is an absurd 

Preface to Overruled 77 

morality, and can be kept in countenance only by hypoc- 
risy. When people were ashamed of sanitary problems, 
and refused to face them, leaving them to solve them- 
selves clandestinely in dirt and secrecy, the solution ar- 
rived at was the Black Death. A similar policy as to 
sex problems has solved itself by an even worse plague 
than the Black Death; and the remedy for that is not sal- 
varsan, but sound moral hygiene, the first foundation of 
which is the discontinuance of our habit of telling not 
only the comparatively harmless lies that we know we 
ought not to tell, but the ruinous lies that we foolishly 
think we ought to tell. 


A lady and gentleman are sitting together on a ches- 
terfield in a retired corner of the lounge of a seaside hotel. 
It is a summer night: the French window behind them 
stands open. The terrace without overlooks a moonlit 
harbor. The lounge is dark. The chesterfield, uphol- 
stered in silver grey, and the two figures on it in evening 
dress, catch the light from an arc lamp somewhere; but 
the walls, covered with a dark green paper, are in gloom. 
There are two stray chairs, one on each side. On the 
gentleman's right, behind him up near the window, is an 
unused fireplace. Opposite it on the lady's left is a door. 
The gentleman is on the lady's right. 

The lady is very attractive, with a musical voice and 
soft appealing manners. She is young: that is, one feels 
sure that she is under thirty-five and over twenty-four. 
The gentleman does not look much older. He is rather 
handsome, and has ventured as far in the direction of 
poetic dandyism in the arrangement of his hair as any 
man who is not a professional artist can afford to in Eng- 
land. He is obviously very much in love with the lady, 
and is, in fact, yielding to an irresistible impulse to throw 
his arms around her. 

The Lady. Dont — oh dont be horrid. Please, Mr. 
Limn [she rises from the lounge and retreats behind it] I 
Promise me you won't be horrid. 

Gregory Lunn. I'm not being horrid, Mrs. Juno. 
I'm not going to be horrid. I love you: thats all. I'm 
extraordinarily happy. 


Overruled 79 

Mrs. Juno. You will really be good? 

Gregory. I'll be whatever you wish me to be. I tell 
you I love you. I love loving you. I dont want to be 
tired and sorry, as I should be if I were to be horrid. I 
dont want you to be tired and sorry. Do come and sit 
down again. 

Mrs. Juno [coming back to her seat], Youre sure 
you dont want anything you oughtnt to? 

Gregory. Quite sure. I only want you [she recoils], 
Dont be alarmed. I like wanting you. As long as I 
have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is 

Mrs. Juno. Yes; but the impulse to commit suicide 
is sometimes irresistible. 

Gregory. Not with you. 

Mrs. Juno. What! 

Gregory. Oh, it sounds uncomplimentary; but it isnt 
really. Do you know why half the couples who find 
themselves situated as we are now behave horridly? 

Mrs. Juno. Because they cant help it if they let 
things go too far. 

Gregory. Not a bit of it. It's because they have 
nothing else to do, and no other way of entertaining each 
other. You dont know what it is to be alone with a wo- 
man who has little beauty and less conversation. What 
is a man to do? She cant talk interestingly; and if he 
talks that way himself she doesnt understand him. He 
cant look at her: if he does, he only finds out that she 
isnt beautiful. Before the end of five minutes they are 
both hideously bored. Theres only one thing that can 
save the situation; and thats what you call being horrid. 
With a beautiful, witty, kind woman, theres no time for 
such follies. It's so delightful to look at her, to listen to 
her voice, to hear all she has to say, that nothing else 
happens. That is why the woman who is supposed to 

80 Overruled 

have a thousand lovers seldom has one ; whilst the stupid, 
graceless animals of women have dozens. 

Mrs. Juno. I wonder ! It's quite true that when one 
feels in danger one talks like mad to stave it off, even 
when one doesnt quite want to stave it off. 

Gregory. One never does quite want to stave it off. 
Danger is delicious. But death isnt. We court the 
danger ; but the real delight is in escaping, after all. 

Mrs. Juno. I dont think we'll talk about it any more. 
Danger is all very well when you do escape; but some- 
times one doesnt. I tell you franky I dont feel as safe 
as you do — if, you really do. 

Gregory. But surely you can do as you please with- 
out injuring anyone, Mrs. Juno. That is the whole secret 
of your extraordinary charm for me. 

Mrs. Juno. I dont understand. 

Gregory. Well, I hardly know how to begin to ex- 
plain. But the root of the matter is that I am what peo- 
ple call a good man. 

Mrs. Juno. I thought so until you began making love 
to me. 

Gregory. But you knew I loved you all along. 

Mrs. Juno. Yes, of course; but I depended on you 
not to tell me so ; because I thought you were good. Your 
blurting it out spoilt it. And it was wicked besides. 

Gregory. Not at all. You see, it's a great many 
years since Ive been able to allow myself to fall in love. 
I know lots of charming women; but the worst of it is, 
theyre all married. Women dont become charming, to 
my taste, until theyre fully developed; and by that time, 
if theyre really nice, theyre snapped up and married. 
And then, because I am a good man, I have to place a 
limit to my regard for them. I may be fortunate enough 
to gain friendship and even very warm affection from 
them; but my loyalty to their husbands and their hearths 
and their happiness obliges me to draw a line and not 

Overruled 81 

overstep it. Of course I value such affectionate regard 
very highly indeed. I am surrounded with women who 
are most dear to me. But every one of them has a 
post sticking up, if I may put it that way, with the 
inscription: Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted. How we 
all loathe that notice ! In every lovely garden, in every 
dell full of primroses, on every fair hillside, we meet that 
confounded board; and there is always a gamekeeper 
round the corner. But what is that to the horror of meet- 
ing it on every beautiful woman, and knowing that there 
is a husband round the corner? I have had this accursed 
board standing between me and every dear and desirable 
woman until I thought I had lost the power of letting 
myself fall really and wholeheartedly in love. 

Mrs. Juno. Wasnt there a widow? 

Gregory. No. Widows are extraordinarily scarce in 
modern society. Husbands live longer than they used to ; 
and even when they do die, their widows have a string of 
names down for their next. 

Mrs. Juno. Well, what about the young girls ? 

Gregory. Oh, who cares fo* young girls? Theyre 
sympathetic. Theyre beginners. They dont attract 
me. I'm afraid of them. 

Mrs. Juno. Thats the correct thing to say to a wo- 
man of my age. But it doesnt explain why you seem to 
have put your scruples in your pocket when you met me. 

Gregory. Surely thats quite clear. I — 

Mrs. Juno. No: please dont explain. I dont want 
to know. I take your word for it. Besides, it doesnt 
matter now. Our voyage is over; and to-morrow I start 
for the north to my poor father's place. 

Gregory [surprised]. Your poor father! I thought 
he was alive. 

Mrs. Juno. So he is. What made you think he 

Gregory. You said your poor father. 

82 Overruled 

Mrs. Juno. Oh, thats a trick of mine. Rather a silly 
trick, I suppose; but theres something pathetic to me 
about men: I find myself calling them poor So-and-So 
when theres nothing whatever the matter with them. 

Gregory [who has listened in growing alarm]. But — 
I— is ?— wa— ? Oh, Lord ! 

Mrs. Juno. Whats the matter? 

Gregory. Nothing. 

Mrs. Juno. Nothing! [Rising anxiously]. Nonsense: 
youre ill. 

Gregory. No. It was something about your late 
husband — 

Mrs. Juno. My late husband ! What do you mean ? 
[clutching him, horror-stricken], Dont tell me he's 

Gregory [rising, equally appalled], Dont tell me 
he's alive. 

Mrs. Juno. Oh, dont frighten me like this. Of 
course he's alive — unless youve heard anything. 

Gregory. The first day we met — on the boat — you 
spoke to me of your poor dear husband. 

Mrs. Juno [releasing him, quite reassured]. Is that 

Gregory. Well, afterwards you called him poor Tops. 
Always poor Tops, or poor dear Tops. What could I 

Mrs. Juno [sitting down again], I wish you hadnt 
given me such a shock about him ; for I havent been treat- 
ing him at all well. Neither have you. 

Gregory [relapsing into his seat, overwhelmed]. And 
you mean to tell me youre not a widow ! 

Mrs. Juno. Gracious, no ! I'm not in black. 

Gregory. Then I have been behaving like a black- 
guard. I have broken my promise to my mother. I shall 
never have an easy conscience again. 

Mrs. Juno. I'm sorry. I thought you knew. 

Overruled 83 

Gregory. You thought I was a libertine ? 

Mrs. Juno. No: of course I shouldnt have spoken 
to you if I had thought that. I thought you liked me, 
but that you knew, and would be good. 

Gregory [stretching his hands towards her breast], 
I thought the burden of being good had fallen from my 
soul at last. I saw nothing there but a bosom to rest on : 
the bosom of a lovely woman of whom I could dream with- 
out guilt. What do I see now? 

Mrs. Juno. Just what you saw before. 

Gregory [despairingly']. No, no. 

Mrs. Juno. What else? 

Gregory. Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted: Tres- 
passers Will Be Prosecuted. 

Mrs. Juno. They wont if they hold their tongues. 
Dont be such a coward. My husband wont eat you. 

Gregory. I'm not afraid of your husband. I'm 
afraid of my conscience. 

Mrs. Juno [losing patience]. Well! I don't consider 
myself at all a badly behaved woman; for nothing has 
passed between us that was not perfectly nice and 
friendly; but really! to hear a grown-up man talking 
about promises to his mother ! — 

Gregory [interrupting her]. Yes, yes: I know all 
about that. It's not romantic : it's not Don Juan : it's not 
advanced; but we feel it all the same. It's far deeper in 
our blood and bones than all the romantic stuff. My 
father got into a scandal once: that was why my mother 
made me promise never to make love to a married woman. 
And now Ive done it I cant feel honest. Dont pretend 
to despise me or laugh at me. You feel it too. You said 
just now that your own conscience was uneasy when you 
thought of your husband. What must it be when you 
think of my wife ? 

Mrs. Juno [rising aghast]. Your wife! ! ! You 

84 Overruled 

dont dare sit there and tell me coolly that youre a mar- 
ried man ! 

Gregory. I never led you to believe I was unmarried. 

Mrs. Juno. Oh ! You never gave me the faintest hint 
that you had a wife. 

Gregory. I did indeed. I discussed things with you 
that only married people really understand. 

Mrs. Juno. Oh!! 

Gregory. I thought it the most delicate way of let- 
ting you know. 

Mrs. Juno. Well, you area daisy, I must say. I 
suppose thats vulgar ; but really ! really ! ! You and your 
goodness ! However, now weve found one another out 
theres only one thing to be done. Will you please go? 

Gregory [rising slowly], I o u g h t to go. 

Mrs. Juno. Well, go. 

Gregory. Yes. Er — [he tries to go]. I — I some- 
how cant. [He sits down again helplessly]. My con- 
science is active: my will is paralyzed. This is really 
dreadful. Would you mind ringing the bell and asking 
them to throw me out ? You ought to, you know. 

Mrs. Juno. What ! make a scandal in the face of the 
whole hotel! Certainly not. Dont be a fool. 

Gregory. Yes; but I cant go. 

Mrs. Juno. Then I can. Goodbye. 

Gregory [clinging to her hand]. Can you really? 

Mrs. Juno. Of course I — [she wavers]. Oh, dear! 
[They contemplate one another helplessly]. I cant. 
[She sinks on the lounge, hand in hand with him]. 

Gregory. For heaven's sake pull yourself together. 
It's a question of self-control. 

Mrs. Juno [dragging her hand away and retreating to 
the end of the chesterfield]. No: it's a question of dis- 
tance. Self-control is all very well two or three yards 
off, or on a ship, with everybody looking on. Dont come 
any nearer. 

Overruled 85 

Gregory. This is a ghastly business. I want to go 
away; and I cant. 

Mrs. Juno. I think you ought to go [he makes an 
effort; and she adds quickly] but if you try I shall grab 
you round the neck and disgrace myself. I implore you 
to sit still and be nice. 

Gregory. I implore you to run away. I believe I 
can trust myself to let you go for your own sake. But 
it will break my heart. 

Mrs. Juno. I dont want to break your heart. I 
can't bear to think of your sitting here alone. I cant 
bear to think of sitting alone myself somewhere else. 
It's so senseless — so ridiculous — when we might be so 
happy. I dont want to be wicked, or coarse. But I 
like you very much; and I do want to be affectionate 
and human. 

Gregory. I ought to draw a line. 

Mrs. Juno. So you shall, dear. Tell me: do you 
really like me ? I dont mean love me : you might love 
the housemaid — 

Gregory [vehemently]. No! 

Mrs. Juno. Oh, yes you might; and what does that 
matter, anyhow? Are you really fond of me? Are we 
friends — comrades? Would you be sorry if I died? 

Gregory [shrinking] . Oh, dont. 

Mrs. Juno. Or was it the usual aimless man's lark: 
a mere shipboard flirtation? 

Gregory. . Oh, no, no : nothing half so bad, so vulgar, 
so wrong. I assure you I only meant to be agreeable. 
It grew on me before I noticed it. 

Mrs. Juno. And you were glad to let it grow? 

Gregory. I let it grow because the board was not up. 

Mrs. Juno. Bother the board! I am just as fond 
of Sibthorpe as — 

Gregory. Sibthorpe ! 

86 Overruled 

Mrs. Juno. Sibthorpe is my husband's Christian 
name. I oughtnt to call him Tops to you now. 

Gregory [chuckling}. It sounded like something to 
drink. But I have no right to laugh at him. My Chris- 
tian name is Gregory, which sounds like a powder. 

Mrs. Juno [chilled]. That is so like a man! I offer 
you my heart's warmest friendliest feeling; and you think 
of nothing but a silly joke. A quip like that makes you 
forget me. 

Gregory^ Forget you! Oh, if I only could! 

Mrs. Juno. If you could, would you? 

Gregory [burying his shamed face in his hands]. 
No: I'd die first. Oh, I hate myself. 

Mrs. Juno. I glory in myself. It's so jolly to be 
reckless. C a n a man be reckless, I wonder. 

Gregory [straightening himself desperately]. No. 
I'm not reckless. I know what I'm doing: my conscience 
is awake. Oh, where is the intoxication of love? the 
delirium? the madness that makes a man think the world 
well lost for the woman he adores? I dont think any- 
thing of the sort: I see that it's not worth it: I know that 
it's wrong: I have never in my life been cooler, more 

Mrs. Juno [opening her arms to him] But you cant 
resist me. 

Gregory. I must. I ought [throwing himself into 
her arms]. Oh, my darling, my treasure, we shall be 
sorry for this. 

Mrs. Juno. We can forgive ourselves. Could we for- 
give ourselves if we let this moment slip? 

Gregory. I protest to the last. I'm against this. I 
have been pushed over a precipice. I'm innocent. This 
wild joy, this exquisite tenderness, this ascent into heaven 
can thrill me to the uttermost fibre of my heart [with 
a gesture of ecstasy she hides her face on his shoulder] ; 
but it cant subdue my mind or corrupt my conscience, 

Overruled 87 

which still shouts to the skies that I'm not a willing party 
to this outrageous conduct. I repudiate the bliss with 
which you are filling me. 

Mrs. Juno. Never mind your conscience. Tell me 
how happy you are. 

Gregory. No: I recall you to your duty. But oh, I 
will give you my life with both hands if you can tell me 
that you feel for me one millionth part of what I feel for 
you now. 

Mrs. Juno. Oh, yes, yes. Be satisfied with that. 
Ask for no more. Let me go. 

Gregory. I cant. I have no will. Something stronger 
than either of us is in command here. Nothing on earth 
or in heaven can part us now. You know that, dont you? 

Mrs. Juno. Oh, dont make me say it. Of course I 
know. Nothing — not life nor death nor shame nor 
anything can part us. 

A Matter-of-fact Male Voice in the Corridor. 
All right. This must be it. 

The two recover with a violent start; release one 
another; and spring bach to opposite sides of the lounge, 

Gregory. That did it. 

Mrs. Juno [in a thrilling whisper] Sh-sh-sh! That 
was my husband's voice. 

Gregory. Impossible: it's only our guilty fancy. 

A Woman's Voice. This is the way to the lounge. I 
know it. 

Gregory. Great Heaven ! were both mad. Thats my 
wife's voice. 

Mrs. Juno. Ridiculous! Oh! were dreaming it all. 
We — [the door opens; and Sibthorpe Juno appears in the 
roseate glow of the corridor (which happens to be papered 
in pink) with Mrs. Lunn, like Tannhauser in the hill 
of Venus. He is a fussily energetic little man, who gives 
himself an air of gallantry by greasing the points of his 
moustaches and dressing very carefully. She is a tall, 

88 Overruled 

imposing, handsome, languid woman, with flashing dark 
eyes and long lashes. They make for the chesterfield, 
not noticing the two palpitating figures blotted against 
the walls in the gloom on either side. The figures flit 
away noiselessly through the window and disappear] . 

Juno [officiously] Ah: here we are. [He leads the 
way to the sofa]. Sit down: I'm sure youre tired. [She 
sits]. Thats right. [He sits beside her on her left]. 
Hullo! [he rises] this sofa's quite warm. 

Mrs. Lunn [bored] Is it? I dont notice it. I expect 
the sun's been on it. 

Juno. I felt it quite distinctly: I'm more thinly clad 
than you. [He sits down again, and proceeds, with a sigh 
of satisfaction] . What a relief to get off the ship and 
have a private room ! Thats the worst of a ship. Youre 
under observation all the time. 

Mrs. Lunn. But why not? 

Juno. Well, of course theres no reason : at least I sup- 
pose not. But, you know, part of the romance of a jour- 
ney is that a man keeps imagining that something might 
happen ; and he cant do that if there are a lot of people 
about and it simply cant happen. 

Mrs. Lunn. Mr. Juno: romance is all very well on 
board ship; but when your foot touches the soil of Eng- 
land theres an end of it. 

Juno. No: believe me, thats a foreigner's mistake: 
we are the most romantic people in the world, we Eng- 
lish. Why, my very presence here is a romance. 

Mrs. Lunn [faintly ironical] Indeed? 

Juno. Yes. Youve guessed, of course, that I'm a 
married man. 

Mrs. Lunn. Oh, thats all right I'm a married woman. 

Juno. Thank Heaven for that! To my English 
mind, passion is not real passion without guilt. I am a 
red-blooded man, Mrs. Lunn : I cant help it. The tragedy 
of my life is that I married, when quite young, a woman 

Overruled 89 

whom I couldnt help being very fond of. I longed for a 
guilty passion — for the real thing — the wicked thing ; and 
yet I couldnt care twopence for any other woman when 
my wife was about. Year after year went by: I felt 
my youth slipping away without ever having had a ro- 
mance in my life ; for marriage is all very well ; but it isnt 
romance. Theres nothing wrong in it, you see. 

Mrs. Lunn. Poor man ! How you must have suffered ! 

Juno. No: that was what was so tame about it. I 
wanted to suffer. You get so sick of being happily mar- 
ried. It's always the happy marriages that break up. 
At last my wife and I agreed that we ought to take a 

Mrs. Lunn. Hadnt you holidays every year? 

Juno. Oh, the seaside and so on ! Thats not what we 
meant. We meant a holiday from one another. 

Mrs. Lunn. How very odd ! 

Juno. She said it was an excellent idea ; that domestic 
felicity was making us perfectly idiotic; that she wanted 
a holiday, too. So we agreed to go round the world in 
opposite directions. I started for Suez on the day she 
sailed for New York. 

Mrs. Lunn [suddenly becoming attentive] Thats pre- 
cisely what Gregory and I did. Now I wonder did he 
want a holiday from me ! What he said was that he want- 
ed the delight of meeting me after a long absence. 

Juno. Could anything be more romantic than that? 
Would anyone else than an Englishman have thought of 
it? I daresay my temperament seems tame to your boil- 
ing southern blood — 

Mrs. Lunn. My what! 

Juno. Your southern blood. Dont you remember how 
you told me, that night in the saloon when I sang "Fare- 
well and adieu to you dear Spanish ladies," that you were 
by birth a lady of Spain? Your splendid Andalusian 
beauty speaks for itself. 

90 Overruled 

Mrs. Lunn. Stuff! I was born in Gibraltar. My 
father was Captain Jenkins. In the artillery. 

Juno [ardently] It is climate and not race that deter- 
mines the temperament. The fiery sun of Spain blazed 
on your cradle; and it rocked to the roar of British can- 

Mrs. Lunn. What eloquence! It reminds me of my 
husband when he was in love — before we were married. 
Are you in love? 

Juno. Yes; and with the same woman. 

Mrs. Lunn. Well, of course, I didnt suppose you 
were in love with two women. 

Juno. I dont think you quite understand. I meant 
that I am in love with you. 

Mrs. Lunn [relapsing into deepest boredom] Oh, 
that! Men do fall in love with me. They all seem to 
think me a creature with volcanic passions: I'm sure I 
dont know why; for all the volcanic women I know are 
plain little creatures with sandy hair. I dont consider 
human volcanoes respectable. And I'm so tired of the 
subject! Our house is always full of women who are in 
love with my husband and men who are in love with 
me. We encourage it because it's pleasant to have com- 

Juno. And is your husband as insensible as yourself? 

Mrs. Lunn. Oh, Gregory's not insensible: very far 
from it; but I am the only woman in the world for him. 

Juno. But you? Are you really as insensible as you 
say you are? 

Mrs. Lunn. I never said anything of the kind. I'm 
not at all insensible by nature; but (I dont know whether 
youve noticed it) I am what people call rather a fine 
figure of a woman. 

Juno [passionately] Noticed it ! Oh, Mrs. Lunn ! Have 
I been able to notice anything else since we met? 

Mrs. Lunn. There you go, like all the rest of them! 

Overruled 91 

I ask you, how do you expect a woman to keep up what 
you call her sensibility when this sort of thing has hap- 
pened to her about three times a week ever since she was 
seventeen? It used to upset me and terrify me at first. 
Then I got rather a taste for it. It came to a climax with 
Gregory: that was why I married him. Then it became 
a mild lark, hardly worth the trouble. After that I found 
it valuable once or twice as a spinal tonic when I was 
run down ; but now it's an unmitigated bore. I dont mind 
your declaration: I daresay it gives you a certain pleas- 
ure to make it. I quite understand that you adore me; 
but (if you dont mind) I'd rather you didnt keep on say- 
ing so. 

Juno. Is there then no hope for me? 

Mrs. Lunn. Oh, yes. Gregory has an idea that mar- 
ried women keep lists of the men theyll marry if they 
become widows. I'll put your name down, if that will 
satisfy you. 

Juno. Is the list a long one? 

Mrs. Lunn. Do you mean the real list? Not the one 
I shew to Gregory: there are hundreds of names on that; 
but the little private list that he'd better not see? 

Juno. Oh, will you really put me on that? Say you 

Mrs. Lunn. Well, perhaps I will. [He kisses her 
hand]. Now dont begin abusing the privilege. 

Juno. May I call you by your Christian name? 

Mrs. Lunn. No: it's too long. You cant go about 
calling a woman Seraphita. 

Juno [ecstatically] Seraphita! 

Mrs. Lunn. I used to be called Sally at home; but 
when I married a man named Lunn, of course that be- 
came ridiculous. Thats my one little pet joke. Call me 
Mrs. Lunn for short. And change the subject, or I shall 
go to sleep. 

Juno. I cant change the subject. For me there is no 

92 Overruled 

other subject. Why else have you put me on your 

Mrs. Lunn. Because youre a solicitor. Gregory's a 
solicitor. I'm accustomed to my husband being a solic- 
itor and telling me things he oughtnt to tell anybody. 

Juno [ruefully] Is that all? Oh, I cant believe that 
the voice of love has ever thoroughly awakened you. 

Mrs. Lunn. No: it sends me to sleep. [Juno appeals 
against this by an amorous demonstration']. It's no use, 
Mr. Juno: I'm hopelessly respectable: the Jenkinses al- 
ways were. Dont you realize that unless most women 
were like that, the world couldnt go on as it does? 

Juno [darkly] You think it goes on respectably; but 
I can tell you as a solicitor — 

Mrs. Lunn. Stuff ! of course all the disreputable peo- 
ple who get into trouble go to you, just as all the sick 
people go to the doctors; but most people never go to 
a solicitor. 

Juno [rising, with a growing sense of injury] Look 
here, Mrs. Lunn : do you think a man's heart is a potato ? 
or a turnip? or a ball of knitting wool? that you can 
throw it away like this ? 

Mrs. Lunn. I dont throw away balls of knitting wool. 
A man's heart seems to me much like a sponge: it sops 
up dirty water as well as clean. 

Juno. I have never been treated like this in my life. 
Here am I, a married man, with a most attractive wife: 
a wife I adore, and who adores me, and has never as 
much as looked at any other man since we were married. 
I come and throw all this at your feet. I ! I, a solicitor ! 
braving the risk of your husband putting me into the 
divorce court and making me a beggar and an outcast! 
I do this for your sake. And you go on as if I were 
making no sacrifice: as if I had told you it's a fine eve- 
ning, or asked you to have a cup of tea. It's not human. 

Overruled 93 

It's not right. Love has its rights s 1as well as respect- 
ability [he sits down again, aloof and sulky']. 

Mrs. Lunn. Nonsense ! Here, heres a flower [she 
gives him one]. Go and dream over it until you feel 
hungry. Nothing brings people to their senses like hun- 

Juno [contemplating the flower without rapture] 
What good's this? 

Mrs. Lunn [snatching it from him] Oh ! you dont love 
me a bit. 

Juno. Yes I do. Or at least I did. But I'm an Eng- 
lishman; and I think you ought to respect the conven- 
tions of English life. 

Mrs. Juno. But I am respecting them; and youre 

Juno. Pardon me. I may be doing wrong; but I'm 
doing it in a proper and customary manner. You may 
be doing right; but youre doing it in an unusual and 
questionable manner. I am not prepared to put up with 
that. I can stand being badly treated: I'm no baby, and 
can take care of myself with anybody. And of course 
I can stand being well treated. But the thing I cant 
stand is being unexpectedly treated. It's outside my 
scheme of life. So come now! youve got to behave nat- 
urally and straightforwardly with me. You can leave 
husband and child, home, friends, and country, for my 
sake, and come with me to some southern isle — or say 
South America — where we can be all in all to one an- 
other. Or you can tell your husband and let him jolly 
well punch my head if he can. But I'm damned if I'm 
going to stand any eccentricity. It's not respectable. 

Gregory [coming in from the terrace and advancing 
with dignity to his wife's end of the chesterfield]. Will 
you have the goodness, sir, in addressing this lady, to 
keep your temper and refrain from using profane lan- 

94 Overruled 

Mrs. Lunn [rising, delighted] Gregory! Darling 
[she enfolds him in a copious embrace] ! 

Juno [rising] You make love to another man to my 

Mrs. Lunn. Why, he's my husband. 

Juno. That takes away the last rag of excuse for such 
conduct. A nice world it would be if married people 
were to carry on their endearments before everybody! 

Gregory. This is ridiculous. What the devil business 
is it of yours what passes between my wife and myself? 
Youre not her husband, are you? 

Juno. Not at present; but I'm on the list. I'm her 
prospective husband: youre only her actual one. I'm 
the anticipation: youre the disappointment. 

Mrs. Lunn. Oh, my Gregory is not a disappoint- 
ment. [Fondly] Are you, dear? 

Gregory. You just wait, my pet. I'll settle this chap 
for you. [He disengages himself from her embrace, and 
faces Juno. She sits down placidly]. You call me a dis- 
appointment, do you? Well, I suppose every husband's 
a disappointment. What about yourself? Dont try to 
look like an unmarried man. I happen to know the lady 
you disappointed. I travelled in the same ship with her ; 
and — 

Juno. And you fell in love with her. 

Gregory [taken aback] Who told you that ? 

Juno. Aha! you confess it. Well, if you want to 
know, nobody told me. Everybody falls in love with 
my wife. 

Gregory. And do you fall in love with everybody's 

Juno. Certainly not. Only with yours. 

Mrs. Lunn. But whats the good of saying that, Mr. 
Juno? I'm married to him; and theres an end of it. 

Juno. Not at all. You can get a divorce. 

Mrs. Lunn. What for? 

Overruled 95 

Juno. For his misconduct with my wife. 

Gregory [deeply indignant] How dare you, sir, as- 
perse the character of that sweet lady? a lady whom I 
have taken under my protection. 

Juno. Protection ! 

Mrs. Juno [returning hastily] Really you must be 
more careful what you say about me, Mr. Lunn. 

Juno. My precious! [He embraces her]. Pardon this 
betrayal of my feeling; but Ive not seen my wife for 
several weeks; and she is very dear to me. 

Gregory. I call this cheek. Who is making love to 
his own wife before people now, pray ? 

Mrs. Lunn. Wont you introduce me to your wife, Mr. 

Mrs. Juno. How do you do? [They shake hands; and 
Mrs. Juno sits down beside Mrs. Lunn, on her left]. 

Mrs. Lunn. I'm so glad to find you do credit to 
Gregory's taste. I'm naturally rather particular about 
the women he falls in love with. 

Juno [sternly] This is no way to take your husband's 
unfaithfulness. [To Lunn] You ought to teach your 
wife better. Wheres her feelings? It's scandalous. 

Gregory. What about your own conduct, pray? 

Juno. I dont defend it; and theres an end of the mat- 

Gregory. Well, upon my soul! What difference does 
your not defending it make? 

Juno. A fundamental difference. To serious people I 
may appear wicked. I dont defend myelf : I am wicked, 
though not b<d at heart. To thoughtless people I may 
even appear comic. Well, laugh at me: I have given 
myself away. But Mrs. Lunn seems to have no opinion 
at all about me. She doesnt seem to know whether I'm 
wicked or comic. She doesnt seem to care. She has no 
more sense. I say it's not right. I repeat, I have sinned ; 
and I'm prepared to suffer. 

96 Overruled 

Mrs. Juno. Have you really sinned, Tops? 

Mrs. Lunn [blandly] I dont remember your sinning. 
I have a shocking bad memory for trifles; but I think 
I should remember that — if you mean me. 

Juno [raging] Trifles! I have fallen in love with a 

Gregory. Dont you dare call my wife a monster. 

Mrs. Juno [rising quickly and coming between them]. 
Please dont lose your temper, Mr. Lunn: I wont have 
my Tops bullied. 

Gregory. Well, then, let him not brag about sinning 
with my wife. [He turns impulsively to his wife; makes 
her rise; and takes her proudly on his arm]. What pre- 
tension has he to any such honor? 

Juno. I sinned in intention. [Mrs. Juno abandons 
him and resumes her seat, chilled]. I'm as guilty as if I 
had actually sinned. And I insist on being treated as a 
sinner, and not walked over as if I'd done nothing, by 
your wife or any other man. 

Mrs. Lunn. Tush! [She sits down again contemptu- 
ously], ♦ 

Juno [furious] I wont be belittled. 

Mrs. Lunn [to Mrs. Juno] I hope youll come and 
stay with us now that you and Gregory are such friends, 
Mrs. Juno. 

Juno. This insane magnanimity — 

Mrs. Lunn. Dont you think youve said enough, Mr. 
Juno? This is a matter for two women to settle. Wont 
you take a stroll on the beach with my Gregory while 
we talk it over. Gregory is a splendid listener. 

Juno. I dont think any good can come of a conversa- 
tion between Mr. Lunn and myself. We can hardly be 
expected to improve one another's morals. [He passes 
behind the chesterfield to Mrs. Lunn's end; seizes a chair; 
deliberately pushes it between Gregory and Mrs. Lunn; 
and sits down with folded arms, resolved not to budge]. 

Overruled 97 

Gregory. Oh! Indeed! Oh, all right. If you come 
to that — [he crosses to Mrs. Juno; plants a chair by her 
side; and sits down with equal determination], 

Juno. Now we are both equally guilty. 

Gregory. Pardon me. I'm not guilty. 

Juno. In intention. Dont quibble. You were guilty 
in intention, as I was. 

Gregory. No. I should rather describe myself as being 
guilty in fact, but not in intention. 

Juno rising and f What! 

Mrs. Juno \ exclaiming < No, really — 

Mrs. Lunn J simultaneously { Gregory! 

Gregory. Yes: I maintain that I am responsible for 
my intentions only, and not for reflex actions over which 
I have no control. [Mrs. Juno sits down, ashamed], I 
promised my mother that I would never tell a lie, and 
that I would never make love to a married woman. I 
never have told a lie — 

Mrs. Lunn [remonstrating'] Gregory! [She sits 
down again], 

Gregory. I say never. On many occasions I have re- 
sorted to prevarication; but on great occasions I have al- 
ways told the truth. I regard this as a great occasion ; and 
I wont be intimidated into breaking my promise. I 
solemnly declare that I did not know until this evening 
that Mrs. Juno was married. She will bear me out when 
I say that from that moment my intentions were strictly 
and resolutely honorable; though my conduct, which I 
could not control and am therefore not responsible for, 
was disgraceful — or would have been had this gentleman 
not walked in and begun making love to my wife under 
my very nose. 

Juno [flinging himself bach into his chair] Well, I 
like this ! 

Mrs. Lunn. Really, darling, theres no use in the pot 
calling the kettle black. 

98 Overruled 

Gregory. When you say darling, may I ask which of 
us you are addressing? 

Mrs. Lunn. I really dont know. I'm getting hopelessly 

Juno. Why don't you let my wife say something? I 
dont think she ought to be thrust into the background 
like this. 

Mrs. Lunn. I'm sorry, I'm sure. Please excuse me, 

Mrs. Juno [thoughtfully] I dont know what to say. 
I must think over it. I have always been rather severe 
on this sort of thing; but when it came to the point I 
didnt behave as I thought I should behave. I didnt in- 
tend to be wicked; but somehow or other, Nature, or 
whatever you choose to call it, didnt take much notice of 
my intentions. [Gregory instinctively seeks her hand 
and presses if]. And I really did think, Tops, that I was 
the only woman in the world for you. 

Juno [cheerfully] Oh, thats all right, my precious. 
Mrs. Lunn thought she was the only woman in the world 
for him. 

Gregory [reflectively] So she is, in a sort of a way. 

Juno [flaring up] And so is my wife. Dont you set 
up to be a better husband than I am; for youre not. Ive 
owned I'm wrong. You havent. 

Mrs. Lunn. Are you sorry, Gregory? 

Gregory [perplexed] Sorry? 

Mrs. Lunn. Yes, sorry. I think it's time for you to 
say youre sorry, and to make friends with Mr. Juno 
before we all dine together. 

Gregory. Seraphita: I promised my mother — 

Mrs. Juno [involuntarily] Oh, bother your mother! 
[Recovering herself] I beg your pardon. 

Gregory. A promise is a promise. I cant tell a delib- 
erate lie. I know I ought to be sorry ; but the flat fact is 
that I'm not sorry. I find that in this business, somehow 

Overruled 99 

or other, there is a disastrous separation between my 
moral principles and my conduct. 

Juno. Theres nothing disastrous about it. It doesnt 
matter about your conduct if your principles are all 

Gregory. Bosh! It doesn't matter about your princi- 
ples if your conduct is all right. 

Juno. But your conduct isnt all right; and my prin- 
ciples are. 

Gregory. Whats the good of your principles being 
right if they wont work? 

Juno. They will work, sir, if you exercise self-sacri- 

Gregory. Oh yes: if, if, if. You know jolly well that 
self-sacrifice doesnt work either when you really want 
a thing. How much have you sacrificed yourself, pray? 

Mrs. Lunn. Oh, a great deal, Gregory. Dont be rude. 
Mr. Juno is a very nice man: he has been most attentive 
to me on the voyage. 

Gregory. And Mrs. Juno's a very nice woman. She 
oughtnt to be; but she is. 

Juno. Why oughtnt she to be a nice woman, pray? 

Gregory. I mean she oughtnt to be nice to me. And 
you oughtnt to be nice to my wife. And your wife 
oughtnt to like me. And my wife oughtnt to like you. 
And if they do, they oughtnt to go on liking us. And 
I oughtnt to like your wife ; and you oughtnt to like mine ; 
and if we do we oughtnt to go on liking them. But we do, 
all of us. We oughtnt; but we do. 

Juno. But, my dear boy, if we admit we are in the 
wrong wheres the harm of it? Were not perfect; but as 
long as we keep the ideal before us — 

Gregory. How? 

Juno. By admitting were wrong. 

Mrs. Lunn [springing up, out of patience, and pacing 
round the lounge intolerantly] Well, really, I must have 

100 Overruled 

my dinner. These two men, with their morality, and their 
promises to their mothers, and their admissions that they 
were wrong, and their sinning and suffering, and 
their going on at one another as if it meant anything, 
or as if it mattered, are getting on my nerves. [Stooping 
over the back of the chesterfield to address Mrs. Juno] 
If you will be so very good, my dear, as to take my sen- 
timental husband off my hands occasionally, I shall be 
more than obliged to you: I'm sure you can stand more 
male sentimentality than I can. [Sweeping away to the 
fireplace] I, on my part, will do my best to amuse your 
excellent husband when you find him tiresome. 

Juno. I call this polyandry. 

Mrs. Lunn. I wish you wouldnt call innocent things 
by offensive names, Mr. Juno. What do you call your 
own conduct? 

Juno [rising] I tell you I have admitted — 
Gregory "| f What's the good of keeping on 

at that? 
Mrs. Juno f together < Oh, not that again, please. 
Mrs. Lunn Tops: I'll scream if you say 

(^ that again. 

Juno. Oh, well, if you wont listen to me — ! [He sits 
down again]. 

Mrs. Juno. What is the position now exactly? [Mrs. 
Lunn shrugs her shoulders and gives up the conundrum. 
Gregory looks at Juno. Juno turns away his head huff- 
ily]. I mean, what are we going to do? 

Mrs. Lunn. What would you advise, Mr. Juno? 

Juno. I should advise you to divorce your husband. 

Mrs. Lunn. Do you want me to drag your wife into 
court and disgrace her? 

Juno. No : I forgot that. Excuse me ; but for the mo- 
ment I thought I was married to you. 

Gregory. I think we had better let bygones be by- 
gones. [To Mrs. Juno, very tenderly] You will forgive 

Overruled 101 

me, wont you? Why should you let a moment's forget- 
fulness embitter all our future life? 

Mrs. Juno. But it's Mrs. Lunn who has to forgive 

Gregory. Oh, dash it, I forgot. This is getting ridicu- 

Mrs. Lunn. I'm getting hungry. 

Mrs. Juno. Do you really mind, Mrs. Lunn? 

Mrs. Lunn. My dear Mrs. Juno, Gregory is one of 
those terribly uxorious men who ought to have ten wives. 
If any really nice woman will take him off my hands 
for a day or two occasionally, I shall be greatly obliged 
to her. 

Gregory. Seraphita: you cut me to the soul [he 

Mrs. Lunn. Serve you right! Youd think it quite 
proper if it cut me to the soul. 

Mrs. Juno. Am I to take Sibthorpe off your hands 
too, Mrs. Lunn? 

Juno [rising] Do you suppose I'll allow this? 

Mrs. Juno. Youve admitted that youve done wrong, 
Tops. Whats the use of your allowing or not allowing 
after that? 

Juno. I do not admit that I have done wrong. I admit 
that what I did was wrong. 

Gregory. Can you explain the distinction? 

Juno. It's quite plain to anyone but an imbecile. If 
you tell me Ive done something wrong you insult me. 
But if you say that something that I did is wrong you 
simply raise a question of morals. I tell you flatly if you 
say I did anything wrong you will have to fight me. 
In fact I think we ought to fight anyhow. I don't 
particularly want to; but I feel that England expects 
us to. 

Gregory. I wont fight. If you beat me my wife would 

102 Overruled 

share my humiliation. If I beat you, she would sympathize 
with you and loathe me for my brutality. 

Mrs. Lunn. Not to mention that as we are human be- 
ings and not reindeer or barndoor fowl, if two men 
presumed to fight for us we couldnt decently ever speak 
to either of them again. 

Gregory. Besides, neither of us could beat the other, 
as we neither of us know how to fight. We should only 
blacken each others eyes and make fools of ourselves. 

Juno. I dont admit that. Every Englishman can use 
his fists. 

Gregory. Youre an Englishman. Can you use yours? 

Juno. I presume so : I never tried. 

Mrs. Juno. You never told me you couldnt fight, 
Tops. I thought you were an accomplished boxer. 

Juno. My precious: I never gave you any ground for 
such a belief. 

Mrs. Juno. You always talked as if it were a matter 
of course. You spoke with the greatest contempt of men 
who didnt kick other men downstairs. 

Juno. Well, I cant kick Mr. Lunn downstairs. Were 
on the ground floor. 

Mrs. Juno. You could throw him into the harbor. 

Gregory. Do you want me to be thrown into the har- 

Mrs. Juno. No: I only want to shew Tops that he's 
making a ghastly fool of himself. 

Gregory [rising and prowling disgustedly between 
the chesterfield and the windows] We're all making fools 
of ourselves. 

Juno [following him] Well, if we're not to fight, I 
must insist at least on your never speaking to my wife 

Gregory. Does my speaking to your wife do you any 

Juno. No. But it's the proper course to take. [Em- 

Overruled 103 

phatically]. We must behave with some sort of de- 

Mrs. Lunn. And are you never going to speak to me 
again, Mr. Juno? 

Juno. I'm prepared to promise never to do so. I think 
your husband has a right to demand that. Then if I speak 
to you after, it will not be his fault. It will be a breach 
of my promise; and I shall not attempt to defend my 

Gregory [facing him] I shall talk to your wife as 
often as she'll let me. 

Mrs. Juno. I have no objection to your speaking to 
me, Mr. Lunn. 

Juno. Then I shall take steps. 

Gregory. What steps? 

Juno. Steps. Measures. Proceedings. Such steps as 
may seem advisable. 

Mrs. Lunn [to Mrs. Juno] Can your husband afford 
a scandal, Mrs. Juno? 

Mrs. Juno. No. 

Mrs. Lunn. Neither can mine. 

Gregory. Mrs. Juno: I'm very sorry I let you in for 
all this. I dont know how it is that we contrive to make 
feelings like ours, which seems to me to be beautiful 
and sacred feelings, and which lead to such interesting 
and exciting adventures, end in vulgar squabbles and de- 
grading scenes. 

Juno. I decline to admit that my conduct has been 
vulgar or degrading. 

Gregory. I promised — 

Juno. Look here, old chap : I dont say a word against 
your mother; and I'm sorry she's dead; but really, you 
know, most women are mothers; and they all die some 
time or other; yet that doesnt make them infallible au- 
thorities on morals, does it? 

Gregory. I was about to say so myself. Let me add 

104 Overruled \ 

that if you do things merely because you think some 
other fool expects you to do them, and he expects you 
to do them because he thinks you expect him to expect 
you to do them, it will end in everybody doing what no- 
body wants to do, which is in my opinion a silly state of 

Juno. Lunn: I love your wife; and that's all about it. 

Gregory. Juno: I love yours. What then? 

Juno. Clearly she must never see you again. 

Mrs. Juno. Why not? 

Juno. Why not! My love: I'm surprised at you. 

Mrs. Juno. Am I to speak only to men who dislike me ? 

Juno. Yes: I think that is, properly speaking, a mar- 
ried woman's duty. 

Mrs. Juno. Then I wont do it: thats flat. I like to be 
liked. I like to be loved. I want everyone round me to 
love me. I dont want to meet or speak to anyone who 
doesnt like me. 

Juno. But, my precious, this is the most horrible im- 

Mrs. Lunn. I dont intend to give up meeting you, Mr. 
Juno. You amuse me very much. I dont like being loved: 
it bores me. But I do like to be amused. 

Juno. I hope we shall meet very often. But I hope 
also we shall not defend our conduct. 

Mrs. Juno [rising] This is unendurable. Weve all 
been flirting. Need we go on footling about it? 

Juno [huffily] I dont know what you call footling — 

Mrs. Juno [cutting him short] You do. Youre footling. 
Mr. Lunn is footling. Cant we admit that we're human 
and have done with it? 

Juno. I have admitted it all along. I — 

Mrs. Juno [almost screaming] Then stop footling. 

The dinner gong sounds. 

Mrs. Lunn [rising] Thank heaven! Lets go in to din- 
ner. Gregory: take in Mrs. Juno. 

Overruled 105 

Gregory. But surely I ought to take in our guest, and 
not my own wife. 

Mrs. Lunn. Well, Mrs. Juno is not your wife, is she? 

Gregory. Oh, of course: I beg your pardon. I'm hope- 
lessly confused. [He offers his arm to Mrs. Juno, rather 
apprehensively] . 

Mrs. Juno. You seem quite afraid of me [she takes 
his arm]. 

Gregory. I am. I simply adore you. [They go out to- 
gether; and as they pass through the door he turns and 
says in a ringing voice to the other couple] I have said to 
Mrs. Juno that I simply adore her. [He takes her out 

Mrs. Lunn [calling after him] Yes, dear. Shes a 
darling. [To Juno] Now, Sibthorpe. 

Juno [giving her his arm gallantly] You have called 
me Sibthorpe! Thank you. I think Lunn's conduct fully 
justifies me in allowing you to do it. 

Mrs. Lunn. Yes : I think you may let yourself go now. 

Juno. Seraphita : I worship you beyond expression. 

Mrs. Lunn. Sibthorpe : you amuse me beyond descrip- 
tion. Come. [They go in to dinner together]. 




A Professor of Phonetics. 

As will be seen later on, Pygmalion needs, not a pref- 
ace, but a sequel, which I have supplied in its due place. 

The English have no respect for their language, and 
will not teach their children to speak it. They spell it so 
abominably that no man can teach himself -what it sounds 
like. It is impossible for an Englishman to open his 
mouth without making some other Englishman hate or 
despise him. German and Spanish are accessible to for- 
eigners: English is not accessible even to Englishmen. 
The reformer England needs today is an energetic pho- 
netic enthusiast: that is why I have made such a one the 
hero of a popular play. There have been heroes of that 
kind crying in the wilderness for many years past. When 
I became interested in the subject towards the end of the 
eighteen-seventies, Melville Bell was dead; but Alex- 
ander J. Ellis was still a living patriarch, with an im- 
pressive head always covered by a velvet skull cap, for 
which he would apologize to public meetings in a very 
courtly manner. He and Tito Pagliardini, another pho- 
netic veteran, were men whom it was impossible to dislike. 
Henry Sweet, then a young man, lacked their sweetness 
of character : he was about as conciliatory to conventional 
mortals as Ibsen or Samuel Butler. His great ability 
as a phonetician (he was, I think, the best of them all 
at his job) would have entitled him to high official rec- 
ognition, and perhaps enabled him to popularize his sub- 
ject, but for his Satanic contempt for all academic dig- 
nitaries and persons in general who thought more of 


110 Preface to Pygmalion 

Greek than of phonetics. Once, in the day K when the 
Imperial Institute rose in South Kensington, and Joseph 
Chamberlain was booming the Empire, I induced the ed- 
itor of a leading monthly review to commission an article 
from Sweet on the imperial importance of his subject. 
When it arrived, it contained nothing but a savagely de- 
risive attack on a professor of language and literature 
whose chair Sweet regarded as proper to a phonetic ex- 
pert only. The article, being libelous, had to be returned 
as impossible; and I had to renounce my dream of 
dragging its author into the limelight. When I met him 
afterwards, for the first time for many years, I found 
to my astonishment that he, who had been a quite tol- 
erably presentable young man, had actually managed by 
sheer scorn to alter his personal appearance until he had 
become a sort of walking repudiation of Oxford and all 
its traditions. It must have been largely in his own 
despite that he was squeezed into something called a 
Readership of phonetics there. The future of phonetics 
rests probably with his pupils, who all swore by him; but 
nothing could bring the man himself into any sort of com- 
pliance with the university, to which he nevertheless clung 
by divine right in an intensely Oxonian way. I daresay 
his papers, if he has left any, include some satires that 
may be published without too destructive results fifty 
years hence. He was, I believe, not in the least an 
illnatured man : very much the opposite, I should say ; v but 
he would not suffer fools gladly. 

Those who knew him will recognize in my third act 
the allusion to the patent shorthand in which he used 
to write postcards, and which may be acquired from a 
four and six-penny manual published by the Clarendon 
Press. The postcards which Mrs. Higgins describes are 
such as I have received from Sweet. I would decipher 
a sound which a cockney would represent by zerr, and a 
Frenchman by seu, and then write demanding with some 

Preface to Pygmalion 111 

heat what on earth it meant. Sweet, with boundless con- 
tempt for my stupidity, would reply that it not only 
meant but obviously was the word Result, as no other 
word containing that sound, and capable of making sense 
with the context, existed in any language spoken on earth. 
That less expert mortals should require fuller indications 
was beyond Sweet's patience. Therefore, though the 
whole point of his "Current Shorthand" is that it can 
express every sound in the language perfectly, vowels 
as well as consonants, and that your hand has to make no 
stroke except the easy and current ones with which you 
write m, n, and u, 1, p, and q, scribbling them at whatever 
angle comes easiest to you, his unfortunate determination 
to make this remarkable and quite legible script serve also 
as a shorthand reduced it in his own practice to the most 
inscrutable of cryptograms. His true objective was the 
provision of a full, accurate, legible script for our noble 
but ill-dressed language; but he was led past that by his 
contempt for the popular Pitman system of shorthand, 
which he called the Pitfall system. The triumph of Pit- 
man was a triumph of business organization: there was a 
weekly paper to persuade you to learn Pitman : there were 
cheap textbooks and exercise books and transcripts of 
speeches for you to copy, and schools where experienced 
teachers coached you up to the necessary proficiency. 
Sweet could not organize his market in that fashion. He 
might as well have been the Sybil who tore up the leaves 
of prophecy that nobody would attend to. The four and 
six-penny manual, mostly in his lithographed handwriting, 
that was never vulgarly advertized, may perhaps some day 
be taken up by a syndicate and pushed upon the public 
as The Times pushed the Encyclopaedia Britannica; but 
until then it will certainly not prevail against Pitman. 
I have bought three copies of it during my lifetime; and 
I am informed by the publishers that its cloistered exist- 
ence is still a steady and healthy one. I actually learned 

112 Preface to Pygmalion 

the system two several times; and yet the shorthand in 
which I am writing these lines is Pitman's, And the 
reason is, that my secretary cannot transcribe Sweet, hav- 
ing been perforce taught in the schools of Pitman. There- 
fore, Sweet railed at Pitman as vainly as Thersites railed 
at Aj ax : his raillery, however it may have eased his soul, 
gave no popular vogue to Current Shorthand. 

Pygmalion Higgins is not a portrait of Sweet, to whom 
the adventure of Eliza Doolittle would have been impos- 
sible; still, as will be seen, there are touches of Sweet 
in the play. With Higgins's physique and temperament 
Sweet might have set the Thames on fire. As it was, he 
impressed himself professionally on Europe to an extent 
that made his comparative personal obscurity, and the 
failure of Oxford to do justice to his eminence, a puzzle 
to foreign specialists in his subject. I do not blame Ox- 
ford, because I think Oxford is quite right in demanding 
a certain social amenity from its nurslings (heaven knows 
it is not exorbitant in its requirements !) ; for although 
I well know how hard it is for a man of genius with a 
seriously underrated subj ect to maintain serene and kind- 
ly relations with the men who underrate it, and who keep 
all the best places for less important subjects which they 
profess without originality and sometimes without much 
capacity for them, still, if he overwhelms them with wrath 
and disdain, he cannot expect them to heap honors on 

Of the later generations of phoneticians I know little. 
Among them towers the Poet Laureate, to whom perhaps 
Higgins may owe his Miltonic sympathies, though here 
again I must disclaim all portraiture. But if the play 
makes the public aware that there are such people as 
phoneticians, and that they are among the most important 
people in England at present, it will serve its turn. 

I wish to boast that Pygmalion has been an extremely 
successful play all over Europe and North America as 

Preface to Pygmalion 113 

well as at home. It is so intensely and deliberately 
didactic, and its subject is esteemed so dry, that I delight 
in throwing it at the heads of the wiseacres who repeat 
the parrot cry that art should never be didactic. It goes 
to prove my contention that art should never be anything 

Finally, and for the encouragement of people troubled 
with accents that cut them off from all high employment, 
I may add that the change wrought by Professor Higgins 
in the flower girl is neither impossible nor uncommon. 
The modern concierge's daughter who fulfils her ambition 
by playing the Queen of Spain in Ruy Bias at the Theatre 
Francais is only one of many thousands of men and 
women who have sloughed off their native dialects and 
acquired a new tongue. But the thing has to be done sci- 
entifically, or the last state of the aspirant may be worse 
than the first. An honest and natural slum dialect is more 
tolerable than the attempt of a phonetically untaught per- 
son to imitate the vulgar dialect of the golf club; and 
I am sorry to say that in spite of the efforts of our 
Academy of Dramatic Art, there is still too much sham 
golfing English on our stage, and too little of the noble 
English of Forbes Robertson. 



Covent Garden at 11.15 p.m. Torrents of heavy sum- 
mer rain. Cab whistles blowing frantically in all direc- 
tions. Pedestrians running for shelter into the market 
and under the portico of St. Paul's Church, where there 
are already several people, among them a lady and her 
daughter in evening dress. They are all peering out 
gloomily at the rain, except one man with his bach turned 
to the rest, who seems wholly preoccupied with a notebook 
in which he is writing busily. 

The church clock strikes the first quarter. 

The Daughter [in the space between the central pil- 
lars, close to the one on her left] I'm getting chilled to 
the bone. What can Freddy be doing all this time ? Hes 
been gone twenty minutes. 

The Mother [on her daughter's right] Not so long. 
But he ought to have got us a cab by this. 

A Bystander [on the lady's right] He wont get no 
cab not until half -past eleven, missus, when they come 
back after dropping their theatre fares. 

The Mother. But we must have a cab. We cant stand 
here until half-past eleven. It's too bad. 

The Bystander. Well, it aint my fault, missus. 

The Daughter. If Freddy had a bit of gumption, he 
would have got one at the theatre door. 

The Mother. What could he have done, poor boy ? 

The Daughter. Other people got cabs. Why couldnt 

Freddy rushes in out of the rain from the Southamp- 

Act I Pygmalion 115 

ton Street side, and comes between them closing a drip- 
ping umbrella. He is a young man of twenty, in eve- 
ning dress, very wet around the ankles. 

The Daughter. Well, havnt you got a cab? 

Freddy. Theres not one to be had for love or money. 

The Mother. Oh, Freddy, there must be one. You 
cant have tried. 

The Daughter. It's too tiresome. Do you expect us to 
go and get one ourselves? 

Freddy. I tell you theyre all engaged. The rain was so 
sudden : nobody was prepared ; and everybody had to take 
a cab. Ive been to Charing Cross one way and nearly 
to Ludgate Circus the other; and they were all engaged. 

The Mother. Did you try Trafalgar Square? 

Freddy. There wasnt one at Trafalgar Square. 

The Daughter. Did you try ? 

Freddy. I tried as far as Charing Cross Station. Did 
you expect me to walk to Hammersmith? 

The Daughter. You havnt tried at all. 

The Mother. You really are very helpless, Freddy. 
Go again; and dont come back until you have found a 

Freddy. I shall simply get soaked for nothing. 

The Daughter. And what about us? Are we to stay 
here all night in this draught, with next to nothing on. 
You selfish pig — 

Freddy. Oh, very well: I'll go, I'll go. [He opens his 
umbrella and dashes off Strandwards, but comes into col- 
lision with a flower girl, who is hurrying in for shelter, 
knocking her basket out of her hands. A blinding flash 
of lightning, followed instantly by a rattling peal of thun- 
der, orchestrates the incident]. 

The Flower Girl. Nah then, Freddy: look wh' y* 
gowin, deah. 

Freddy. Sorry [he rushes off]. 

The Flower Ghil [picking up her scattered flowers 

116 Pygmalion Act I 

and replacing them in the basket] Theres menners 
f yer! Te-oo banches o voylets trod into the mad. 
[She sits down on the plinth of the column, sorting her 
flowers, on the lady's right. She is not at all an attractive 
person. She is perhaps eighteen, perhaps twenty, hardly 
older. She wears a little sailor hat of black straw that 
has long been exposed to the dust and soot of London 
and has seldom if ever been brushed. Her hair needs 
washing rather badly: its mousy color can hardly be 
natural. She wears a shoddy black coat that reaches 
nearly to her knees and is shaped to her waist. She has 
a brown skirt with a coarse apron. Her boots are much 
the worse for wear. She is no doubt as clean as she can 
afford to be; but compared to the ladies she is very dirty. 
Her features are no worse than theirs; but their condi- 
tion leaves something to be desired; and she needs the 
services of a dentist] . 

The Mother. How do you know that my son's name 
is Freddy, pray? 

The Flower Girl. Ow, eez ye-ooa san, is e? Wal, 
fewd dan y' de-ooty bawmz a mather should, eed now 
bettern to spawl a pore gel's flahrzn than ran awy athaht 
pyin. Will ye-oo py me f'them? [Here, with apolo- 
gies, this desperate attempt to represent her dialect 
without a phonetic alphabet must be abandoned as un- 
intelligible outside London.] 

The Daughter. Do nothing of the sort, mother. 
The idea! 

The Mother. Please allow me, Clara. Have you 
any pennies? 

The Daughter. No. I've nothing smaller than six- 

The Flower Girl [hopefully] I can give you change 
for a tanner, kind lady. 

The Mother [to Clara] Give it to me. [Clara parts 
reluctantly]. Now [to the girl] This is for your flowers. 

Act Pygmalion 117 

The Flower Girl. Thank you kindly, lady. 

The Daughter. Make her give you the change. 
These things are only a penny a bunch. 

The Mother. Do hold your tongue, Clara. [To the 
girl]. You can keep the change. 

The Flower Girl. Oh, thank you, lady. 

The Mother. Now tell me how you know that young 
gentleman's name. 

The Flower Girl. I didnt. 

The Mother. I heard you call him by it. Dont try 
to deceive me. 

The Flower Girl [protesting] Whos trying to de- 
ceive you? I called him Freddy or Charlie same as you 
might yourself if you was talking to a stranger and 
wished to be pleasant. [She sits down beside her 

The Daughter. Sixpence thrown away! Really, 
mamma, you might have spared Freddy that. [She re- 
treats in disgust behind the pillar] . 

An elderly gentleman of the amiable military type 
rushes into shelter, and closes a dripping umbrella. He is 
in the same plight as Freddy, very wet about the ankles. 
He is in evening dress, with a light overcoat. He takes the 
place left vacant by the daughter's retirement. 

The Gentleman. Phew! 

The Mother [to the gentleman] Oh, sir, is there any 
sign of its stopping ? 

The Gentleman. I'm afraid not. It started worse 
than ever about two minutes ago. [He goes to the plinth 
beside the flower girl; puts up his foot on it; and stoops 
to turn down his trouser ends]. 

The Mother. Oh, dear! [She retires sadly and 
joins her daughter]. 

The Flower Girl [taking advantage of the military 
gentleman's proximity to establish friendly relations with 

118 Pygmalion Act I 

him]. If it's worse it's a sign it's nearly over. So 
cheer up, Captain ; and buy a flower off a poor girl. 

The Gentleman. I'm sorry, I havnt any change. 

The Flower Girl. I can give you change, Captain. 

The Gentlemen. For a sovereign? Ive nothing 

The Flower Girl. Garn! Oh do buy a flower off 
me, Captain. I can change half-a-crown. Take this for 

The Gentleman. Now dont be troublesome: theres 
a good girl. [Trying his pockets] I really havnt any 
change — Stop: heres three hapence, if thats any use to 
you [he retreats to the other pillar]. 

The Flower Girl [disappointed, but thinking three 
halfpence better than nothing] Thank you, sir. 

The Bystander [to the girl] You be careful: give 
him a flower for it. Theres a bloke here behind taking 
down every blessed word youre saying. [All turn to the 
man who is taking notes]. 

The Flower Girl [springing up terrified] I aint done 
nothing wrong by speaking to the gentleman. Ive a 
right to sell flowers if I keep off the kerb. [Hysteri- 
cally] I'm a respectable girl: so help me, I never spoke 
to him except to ask him to buy a flower off me. [Gen- 
eral hubbubj mostly sympathetic to the flower girl, but 
deprecating her excessive sensibility. Cries of Dont 
start hollerin. Whos hurting you? Nobody's going to 
touch you. Whats the good of fussing? Steady on. 
Easy, easy, etc., come from the elderly staid spectators, 
who pat her comfortingly. Less patient ones bid her 
shut her head, or ask her roughly what is wrong with her. 
A remoter group, not knowing what the matter is, crowd 
in and increase the noise with question and answer: 
Whats the row ? What she do ? Where is he ? A tec tak- 
ing her down. What ! him ? Yes : him over there : Took 
money off the gentleman, etc. The flower girl, dis- 

Act I Pygmalion 119 

fraught and mobbed, breaks through them to the gentle- 
man, crying wildly] Oh, sir, dont let him charge me. 
You dunno what it means to me. Theyll take away my 
character and drive me on the streets for speaking to 
gentlemen. They — 

The Note Taker [coming forward on her right, the 
rest crowding after him] There, there, there, there! whos 
hurting you, you silly girl? What do you take me for? 

The Bystander. It's all right: hes a gentleman: 
look at his boots. [Explaining to the note taker] She 
thought you was a copper's nark, sir. 

The Note Taker [with quick interest] Whats a 
copper's nark? 

The Bystander [inapt at definition] It's a — well, it's 
a copper's nark, as you might say. What else would 
you call it? A sort of informer. 

The Flower Girl [still hysterical] I take my Bible 
oath I never said a word — 

The Note Taker [overbearing but good-humored] 
Oh, shut up, shut up. Do I look like a policeman? 

The Flower Girl [far from reassured] Then what 
did you take down my words for? How do I know 
whether you took me down right? You just shew me 
what youve wrote about me. [The note taker opens his 
book and holds it steadily under her nose, though the 
pressure of the mob trying to read it over his shoulders 
would upset a weaker man], Whats that? That aint 
proper writing. I cant read that. 

The Note Taker. I can. [Reads, reproducing her 
pronunciation exactly] "Cheer ap, Keptin; n' baw ya 
flahr orf a pore gel." 

The Flower Girl [much distressed] It's because I 
called him Captain. I meant no harm. [ To the gentle- 
man] Oh, sir, dont let him lay a charge agen me for a 
word like that. You — 

The Gentleman. Charge! I make no charge. [To 

120 Pygmalion Act I 

the note taker] Really, sir, if you are a detective, you 
need not begin protecting me against molestation by 
young women until I ask you. Anybody could see that 
the girl meant no harm. 

The Bystanders Generally [demonstrating against 
police espionage] Course they could. What business is 
it of yours? You mind your own affairs. He wants 
promotion, he does. Taking down people's words ! 
Girl never said a word to him. What harm if she did? 
Nice thing a girl cant shelter from the rain without 
being insulted, etc., etc., etc. [She is conducted by the 
more smypathetic demonstrators back to her plinth, where 
she resumes her seat and struggles with her emotion. 

The Bystander. He aint a tec. Hes a blooming 
busybody : thats what he is. I tell you, look at his boots. 

The Note Taker [turning on him genially] And how 
are all your people down at Selsey? 

The Bystander [suspiciously] Who told you my 
people come from Selsey? 

The Note Taker. Never you mind. They did. 
[To the girl] How do you come to be up so far east? 
You were born in Lisson Grove. 

The Flower Girl [appalled] Oh, what harm is there 
in my leaving Lisson Grove? It wasnt fit for a pig to 
live in ; and I had to pay f our-and-six a week. [In tears] 
Oh, boo — hoo — oo — 

The Note Taker. Live where you like; but stop 
that noise. 

The Gentleman [to the girl] Come, come! he cant 
touch you: you have a right to live where you please. 

A Sarcastic Bystander [thrusting himself between 
the note taker and the gentleman] Park Lane, for in- 
stance. Id like to go into the Housing Question with 
you, I would. 

The Flower Girl [subsiding into a brooding melan- 

Act I Pygmalion 121 

choly over her basket, and talking very low-spiritedly 
to herself] I'm a good girl, I am. 

The Sarcastic Bystander [not attending to her] 
Do you know where I come from? 

The Note Taker [promptly] Hoxton. 

Titterings. Popular interest in the note taker's per- 
formance increases. 

The Sarcastic One [amazed] Well, who said I didnt? 
Bly me ! You know everything, you do. 

The Flower Girl [still nursing her sense of injury] 
Aint no call to meddle with me, he aint. 

The Bystander [to her] Of course he aint. Dont 
you stand it from him. [To the note taker] See here: 
what call have you to know about people what never 
offered to meddle with you? Wheres your warrant? 

Several Bystanders [encouraged by this seeming 
point of law] Yes: wheres your warrant? 

The Flower Girl. Let him say what he likes. I 
dont want to have no truck with him. 

The Bystander. You take us for dirt under your 
feet, dont you? Catch you taking liberties with a gen- 
tleman ! 

The Sarcastic Bystander. Yes : tell him where 
he come from if you want to go fortune-telling. 

The Note Taker. Cheltenham, Harrow, Cambridge, 
and India. 

The Gentleman. Quite right. [Great laughter. 
Reaction in the note taker's favor. Exclamations of He 
knows all about it. Told him proper. Hear him tell the 
toff where he come from? etc.]. May I ask, sir, do you 
do this for your living at a music hall? 

The Note Taker. Ive thought of that. Perhaps I 
shall some day. 

* The rain has stopped; and the persons on the outside 
of the crowd begin to drop off. 

122 Pygmalion Act I 

The Flower Girl [resenting the reaction] Hes no 
gentleman, he aint, to interfere with a poor girl. 

The Daughter [out of patience, pushing her way 
rudely to the front and displacing the gentleman, who 
politely retires to the other side of the pillar] What on 
earth is Freddy doing? I shall get pneumonia if I stay 
in this draught any longer. 

The Note Taker [to himself, hastily making a note 
of her pronunciation of "monia"] Earlscourt. 

The Daughter [violently] Will you please keep your 
impertinent remarks to yourself? 

The Note Taker. Did I say that out loud ? I didnt 
mean to; I beg your pardon. Your mother's Epsom, 

The Mother [advancing between her daughter and 
the note taker] How very curious ! I was brought up in 
Largelady Park, near Epsom. 

The Note Taker [uproariously amused] Ha! ha! 
What a devil of a name ! Excuse me. [To the daughter] 
You want a cab, do you? 

The Daughter. Dont dare speak to me. 

The Mother. Oh, please, please Clara. [Her 
daughter repudiates her with an angry shrug and retires 
haughtily.] We should be so grateful to you, sir, if you 
found us a cab. [The note taker produces a whistle]. 
Oh, thank you. [She joins her daughter]. 

The note taker blows a piercing blast. 

The Sarcastic Bystander. There! I knowed he 
was a plain-clothes copper. 

The Bystander. That aint a police whistle: thats 
a sporting whistle. 

The Flower Girl [still preoccupied with her wounded 
feelings] Hes no right to take away my character. My 
character is the same to me as any lady's. 

The Note Taker. I dont know whether youve no- 
ticed it; but the rain stopped about two minutes ago. 

Act I Pygmalion 123 

The Bystander. So it has. Why didnt you say so 
before? and us losing our time listening to your silliness. 
[He walks off towards the Strand] . 

The Sarcastic Bystander. I can tell where you come 
from. You come from Anwell. Go back there. 

The (Note Taker [helpfully] Hanwell. 

The Sarcastic Bystander [affecting great distinction 
of speech] Thenk you, teacher. Haw haw! So long 
[he touches his hat with mock respect and strolls off]. 

The Flower Ghil. Frightening people like that! 
How would he like it himself. 

The Mother. It's quite fine now, Clara. We can 
walk to a motor bus. Come. [She gathers her skirts 
above her ankles and hurries off towards the Strand], 

The Daughter. But the cab — [her mother is out of 
hearing]. Oh, how tiresome! [She follows angrily]. 

All the rest have gone except the note taker, the gen- 
tleman, and the flower girl, who sits arranging her basket, 
and still pitying herself in murmurs. 

The Flower Girl. Poor girl ! Hard enough for her 
to live without being worrited and chivied. 

The Gentleman [returning to his former place on 
the note taker's left] How do you do it, if I may ask? 

The Note Taker. Simply phonetics. The science 
of speech. Thats my profession : also my hobby. Happy 
is the man who can make a living by his hobby ! You can 
spot an Irishman or a Yorkshireman by his brogue. 7 
can place any man within six miles. I can place him 
within two miles in London. Sometimes within two 

The Flower Girl. Ought to be ashamed of himself, 
unmanly coward! 

The Gentleman. But is there a living in that? 

The Note Taker. Oh yes. Quite a fat one. This 
is an age of upstarts. Men begin in Kentish Town with 
£80 a year, and end in Park Lane with a hundred thou- 

124 Pygmalion Act I 

sand. They want to drop Kentish Town; but they give 
themselves away every time they open their mouths. 
Now I can teach them — 

The Flower Girl. Let him mind his own business 
and leave a poor girl — 

The Note Taker [explosively] Woman: cease this 
detestable boohooing instantly; or else seek the shelter 
of some other place of worship. 

The Flower Girl [with feeble defiance] Ive a right 
to be here if I like, same as you. 

The Note Taker. A woman who utters such de- 
pressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be any- 
where — no right to live. Remember that you are a hu- 
man being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate 
speech: that your native language is the language of 
Shakespear and Milton and The Bible; and dont sit 
there crooning like a bilious pigeon. 

The Flower Girl [quite overwhelmed, and looking up 
at him in mingled wonder and deprecation without daring 
to raise her head] Ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-ow-oo ! 

The Note Taker [whipping out his booh] Heavens! 
what a sound ! [He writes; then holds out the booh and 
reads, reproducing her vowels exactly] Ah-ah-ah-ow- 
ow-ow-oo ! 

The Flower Girl [tichled by the performance, and 
laughing in spite of herself] Garn! 

The Note Taker. You see this creature with her 
kerbstone English: the English that will keep her in 
the gutter to the end of her days. Well, sir, in three 
months I could pass that girl off as a duchess at an am- 
bassador's garden party. I could even get her a place 
as lady's maid or shop assistant, which requires better 
English. Thats the sort of thing I do for commercial 
millionaires. And on the profits of it I do genuine sci- 
entific work in phonetics, and a little as a poet on Mil- 
tonic lines. 

Act I Pygmalion 125 

The Gentleman. I am myself a student of Indian 
dialects; and — 

The Note Taker [eagerly] Are you? Do you know 
Colonel Pickering, the author of Spoken Sanscrit? * 

The Gentleman. I am Colonel Pickering. Who 
are you? 

The Note Taker. Henry Higgins, author of Hig- 
gins's Universal Alphabet. 

Pickering [with enthusiasm] I came from India to 
meet you. 

Higgins. I was going to India to meet you. 

Pickering. Where do you live? 

Higgins. 27a Wimpole Street. Come and see me to- 

Pickering. I'm at the Carlton. Come with me now 
and lets have a jaw over some supper. 

Higgins. Right you are. 

The Flower Girl [to Pickering, as he passes her] 
Buy a flower, kind gentleman. I'm short for my lodging. 

Pickering. I really havnt any change. I'm sorry 
[he goes away]. 

Higgins [shocked at girVs mendacity] Liar. You 
said you could change half-a-crown. 

The Flower Girl [rising in desperation] You ought 
to be stuffed with nails, you ought. [Flinging the basket 
at his feet] Take the whole blooming basket for sixpence. 

The church clock strikes the second quarter. 

Higgins [hearing in it the voice of God, rebuking him 
for his Pharisaic want of charity to the poor girl] A re- 
minder. [He raises his hat solemnly; then throws a 
handful of money into the basket and follows Pickering]. 

The Flower Girl [picking up a half-crown] Ah-ow- 
ooh! [Picking up a couple of florins] Aaah-ow-ooh! 
[Picking up several coins] Aaaaaah-ow-ooh ! [Picking 
up a half-sovereign] Aaaaaaaaaaaah-ow-ooh ! ! ! 

Freddy [springing out of a taxicab] Got one at last. 

126 Pygmalion Act I 

Hallo! [To the girl] Where are the two ladies that were 

The Flower Girl. They walked to the bus when the 
rain stopped. 

Freddy. And left me with a cab on my hands. Dam- 
nation ! 

The Flower Girl [with grandeur] Never you mind, 
young man. I'm going home in a taxi. [She sails off to 
the cab. The driver puts his hand behind him and holds 
the door firmly shut against her. Quite understanding 
his mistrust, she shews him her handful of money. 
Eightpence aint no object to me, Charlie. [He grins 
and opens the door]. Angel Court, Drury Lane, round 
the corner of Mickle John's oil shop. Lets see how fast 
you can make her hop it. [She gets in and pulls the 
door to with a slam as the taxicab starts], 

Freddy. Well, I'm dashed! 


Next day at 11 a.m. Higgins's laboratory in Wimpole 
Street. It is a room on the first floor, looking on the 
street, and was meant for the drawing-room. The double 
doors are in the middle of the back wall; and persons 
entering find in the corner to their right two tall file 
cabinets at right angles to one another against the walls. 
In this corner stands a flat writing-table, on which are\ 
a phonograph, a laryngoscope, a row of tiny organ pipes 
with a bellows, a set of lamp chimneys for singing 
flames with burners attached to a gas plug in the wall 
by an indiarubber tube, several tuning-forks of different 
sizes, a life-size image of half a human head, showing 
in section the vocal organs, and a box containing a supply 
of wax cylinders for the phonograph. 

Further down the room, on the same side, is a fireplace, 
with a comfortable leather-covered easy-chair at the side 
of the hearth nearest the door, and a coal-scuttle. There 
is a clock on the mantelpiece. Between the fireplace 
and the phonograph table is a stand for newspapers. 

On the other side of the central door, to the left of 
the visitor, is a cabinet of shallow drawers. On it is a 
telephone and the telephone directory. The corner be- 
yond, and most of the side wall, is occupied by a grand 
piano, with the keyboard at the end furthest from the 
door, and a bench for the player extending the full length 
of the keyboard. On the piano is a dessert dish heaped 
with fruit and sweets, mostly chocolates. 

The middle of the room is clear. Besides the easy- 
chair, the piano bench, and two chairs at the phonograph 


128 Pygmalion Act II 

table, there is one stray chair. It stands near the fire- 
place. On the walls, engravings; mostly Piranesis and 
mezzotint portraits. No paintings. 

Pickering is seated at the table, putting down some 
cards and a tuning-fork which he has been using. Hig- 
gins is standing up near him, closing two or three file 
drawers which are hanging out. He appears in the 
morning light as a robust, vital, appetizing sort of man 
of forty or thereabouts, dressed in a professional-looking 
black frock-coat with a white linen collar and black silk 
tie. He is of the energetic, scientific type, heartily, even 
violently interested in everything that can be studied as 
a scientific subject, and careless about himself and other 
people, including their feelings. He is, in fact, but for 
his years and size, rather like a very impetuous baby 
"taking notice" eagerly and loudly, and requiring almost 
as much watching to keep him out of unintended mischief. 
His manner varies from genial bullying when he is in 
a good humor to stormy petulance when anything goes 
wrong; but he is so entirely frank and void of malice 
that he remains likeable even in his least reasonable 

Higgins [as he shuts the last drawer] Well, I think 
thats the whole show. 

Pickering. It's really amazing. I havnt taken half 
of it in, you know. 

Higgins. Would you like to go over any of it again ? 

Pickering [rising and coming to the fireplace, where 
he plants himself with his back to the fire] No, thank 
you; not now. I'm quite done up for this morning. 

Higgins [following him, and standing beside him on 
his left] Tired of listening to sounds ? 

Pickering. Yes. It's a fearful strain. I rather 
fancied myself because I can pronounce twenty-four dis- 
tinct vowel sounds; but your hundred and thirty beat 

Act II Pygmalion 129 

me. I cant hear a bit of difference between most 
of them. 

Higgins [chuckling, and going over to the piano to 
eat sweets] Oh, that comes with practice. You hear no 
difference at first; but you keep on listening, and pres- 
ently you find they re all as different as A from B. [Mrs. 
Pearce looks in: she is Higgins' s housekeeper] Whats 
the matter? 

Mrs. Pearce [hesitating, evidently perplexed] A 
young woman wants to see you, sir. 

Higgins. A young woman ! What does she want? 

Mrs. Pearce. Well, sir, she says youll be glad to see 
her when you know what shes come about. Shes quite a 
common girl, sir. Very common indeed. I should have 
sent her away, only I thought perhaps you wanted her 
to talk into your machines. I hope Ive not done wrong; 
but really you see such queer people sometimes — youll 
excuse me, I'm sure, sir — 

Higgins. Oh, thats all right, Mrs. Pearce. Has she 
an interesting accent? 

Mrs. Pearce. Oh, something dreadful, sir, really. I 
dont know how you can take an interest in it. 

Higgins [to Pickering] Lets have her up. Shew her 
up, Mrs. Pearce [he rushes across to his working table 
and picks out a cylinder to use on the phonograph]. 

Mrs. Pearce [only half resigned to it] Very well, sir. 
It's for you to say. [She goes downstairs], 

Higgins. This is rather a bit of luck. I'll shew you 
how I make records. We'll set her talking; and I'll take 
it down first in Bell's visible Speech; then in broad 
Romic ; and then we'll get her on the phonograph so that 
you can turn her on as often as you like with the written 
transcript before you. 

Mrs. Pearce [returning] This is the young woman, sir. 

The flower girl enters in state. She has a hat with 
three ostrich feathers, orange, sky-blue, and red. She 

130 Pygmalion Act II 

has a nearly clean apron, and the shoddy coat has been 
tidied a little. The pathos of this deplorable figure, with 
its innocent vanity and consequential air, touches Pick- 
ering, who has already straightened himself in the pres- 
ence of Mrs. Pearce. But as to Higgins, the only dis- 
tinction he makes between men and women is that when 
he is neither bullying nor exclaiming to the heavens 
against some featherweight cross, he coaxes women as a 
child coaxes its nurse when it wants to get anything out 
of her. 

Higgins [brusquely, recognizing her with unconcealed 
disappointment, and at once, babylike, making an intol- 
erable grievance of it] Why, this is the girl I jotted 
down last night. Shes no use: Ive got all the records 
I want of the Lisson Grove lingo; and I'm not going to 
waste another cylinder on it. [To the girl] Be off with 
you: I dont want you. 

The Flower Girl. Dont you be so saucy. You 
aint heard what I come for yet. [To Mrs. Pearce, who 
is waiting at the door for further instruction] Did you 
tell him I come in a taxi? 

Mrs. Pearce. Nonsense, girl! what do you think a 
gentleman like Mr. Higgins cares what you came in? 

The Flower Girl. Oh, we are proud! He aint 
above giving lessons, not him : I heard him say so. Well, 
I aint come here to ask for any compliment; and if my 
money's not good enough I can go elsewhere. 

Higgins. Good enough for what? 

The Flower Girl. Good enough for ye-oo. Now 
you know, dont you? I'm come to have lessons, I am. 
And to pay for em too: make no mistake. 

Higgins [stupent ] Well!!! [Recovering his breath 
with a gasp] What do you expect me to say to you? 

The Flower Girl. Well, if you was a gentleman, 
you might ask me to sit down, I think. Dont I tell 
you I'm bringing you business ? 

Act II Pygmalion 131 

Higgins. Pickering: shall we ask this baggage to sit 
down or shall we throw her out of the window ? 

The Flower Girl [running away in terror to the 
piano, where she turns at bay] Ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-ow-oo ! 
[Wounded and whimpering] I wont be called a baggage 
when Ive offered to pay like any lady. 

Motionless, the two men stare at her from the other 
side of the room, amazed. 

Pickering [gently] What is it you want, my girl? 

The Flower Girl. I want to be a lady in a flower shop 
stead of selling at the corner of Tottenham Court Road. 
But they wont take me unless I can talk more genteel. 
He said he could teach me. Well, here I am ready to pay 
him — not asking any favor — and he treats me as if I was 

Mrs. Pearce. How can you be such a foolish ignorant 
girl as to think you could afford to pay Mr. Higgins ? 

The Flower Girl. Why shouldnt I? I know what 
lessons cost as well as you do; and I'm ready to pay. 

Higgins. How much? 

The Flower Girl [coming back to him, triumphant] 
Now youre talking! I thought youd come off it when 
you saw a chance of getting back a bit of what you 
chucked at me last night. [Confidentially] Youd had a 
drop in, hadnt you? 

Higgins [peremptorily] Sit down. 

The Flower Girl. Oh, if youre going to make a com- 
pliment of it — 

Higgins [thundering at her] Sit down. 

Mrs. Pearce [severely] Sit down, girl. Do as youre 
told. [She places the stray chair near the hearthrug be- 
tween Higgins and Pickering, and stands behind it wait- 
ing for the girl to sit down]. 

The Flower Girl. Ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-oo ! [She stands, 
half rebellious, half bewildered]. 

Pickering [very courteous] Wont you sit down? 

132 Pygmalion Act II 

Liza [coyly~\ Dont mind if I do. [She sits down. 
Pickering returns to the hearthrug], 
Higgins. Whats your name? 
The Flower Girl. Liza Doolittle. 
Higgins [declaiming gravely] 

Eliza, Elizabeth, Betsy and Bess, 
They went to the woods to get a birds nes': 
Pickering. They found a nest with four eggs in it: 
Higgins. They took one apiece, and left three in it. 

They laugh heartily at their own wit. 

Liza. Oh, dont be silly. 

Mrs. Pearce. You mustnt speak to the gentleman like 

Liza. Well, why wont he speak sensible to me? 

Higgins. Come back to business. How much do you 
propose to pay me for the lessons ? 

Liza. Oh, I know whats right. A lady friend of mine 
gets French lessons for eighteenpence an hour from a real 
French gentleman. Well, you wouldnt have the face to 
ask me the same for teaching me my own language as you 
would for French; so I wont give more than a shilling. 
Take it or leave it. 

Higgins [walking up and down the room, rattling his 
keys and his cash in his pockets] You know, Pickering, if 
you consider a shilling, not as a simple shilling, but as a 
percentage of this girl's income, it works out as fully 
equivalent to sixty or seventy guineas from a millionaire. 

Pickering. How so? 

Higgins. Figure it out. A millionaire has about £150 
a day. She earns about half-a-crown. 

Liza [haughtily] Who told you I only — 

Higgins [continuing] She offers me two-fifths of her 
day's income for a lesson. Two-fifths of a millionaire's 
income for a day would be somewhere about £60. It's 
handsome. By George, it's enormous ! it's the biggest 
offer I ever had. 

Act II Pygmalion 133 

Liza [rising, terrified] Sixty pounds! What are you 
talking about? I never offered you sixty pounds. Where 
would I get — 

Higgins. Hold your tongue. 

Liza [weeping] But I aint got sixty pounds. Oh — 

Mrs. Pearce. Dont cry, you silly girl. Sit down. 
Nobody is going to touch your money. 

Higgins. Somebody is going to touch you, with a 
broomstick, if you dont stop snivelling. Sit down. 

Liza [obeying slowly] Ah-ah-ah-ow-oo-o ! One would 
think you was my father. 

Higgins. If I decide to teach you, 111 be worse than 
two fathers to you. Here [he offers her his silk handker- 
chief] ! 

Liza. Whats this for? 

Higgins. To wipe your eyes. To wipe any part of 
your face that feels moist. Remember: thats your hand- 
kerchief; and thats your sleeve. Dont mistake the one 
for the other if you wish to become a lady in a shop. 

Liza, utterly bewildered, stares helplessly at him. 

Mrs. Pearce. It's no use talking to her like that, Mr. 
Higgins: she doesnt understand you. Besides, youre 
quite wrong: she doesnt do it that way at all [she takes 
the handkerchief]. 

Liza [snatching it] Here ! You give me that handker- 
chief. He give it to me, not to you. 

Pickering [laughing] He did. I think it must be re- 
garded as her property, Mrs. Pearce. 

Mrs. Pearce [resigning herself] Serve you right, Mr. 

Pickering. Higgins : I'm interested. What about the 
ambassador's garden party? I'll say youre the greatest 
teacher alive if you make that good. I'll bet you all the 
expenses of the experiment you cant do it. And I'll pay 
for the lessons. 

Liza. Oh, you are real good. Thank you, Captain. 

134 Pygmalion Act II 

Higgins [tempted, looking at her] It's almost irresist- 
ible. Shes so deliciously low — so horribly dirty — 

Liza [protesting extremely] Ah-ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-oo- 
oo ! ! ! I aint dirty : I washed my face and hands afore I 
come, I did. 

Pickering. Youre certainly not going to turn her 
head with flattery, Higgins. 

Mrs. Pearce [uneasy] Oh, dont say that, sir: theres 
more ways than one of turning a girl's head ; and nobody 
can do it better than Mr. Higgins, though he may not 
always mean it. I do hope, sir, you wont encourage him 
to do anything foolish. 

Higgins [becoming excited as the idea grows on him] 
What is life but a series of inspired follies ? The difficulty 
is to find them to do. Never lose a chance: it doesnt 
come every day. I shall make a duchess of this draggle- 
tailed guttersnipe. 

Liza [strongly deprecating this view of her] Ah-ah- 
ah-ow-ow-oo ! 

Higgins [carried away] Yes: in six months — in three 
if she has a good ear and a quick tongue — I'll take her 
anywhere and pass her off as anything. We'll start to- 
day: now! this moment! Take her away and clean her, 
Mrs. Pearce. Monkey Brand, if it wont come off any 
other way. Is there a good fire in the kitchen? 

Mrs. Pearce [protesting]. Yes; but — 

Higgins [storming on] Take all her clothes off and 
burn them. Ring up Whiteley or somebody for new ones. 
Wrap her up in brown paper til they come. 

Liza. Youre no gentleman, youre not, to talk of such 
things. I'm a good girl, I am; and I know what the like 
of you are, I do. 

Higgins. We want none of your Lisson Grove prudery 
here, young woman. Youve got to learn to behave like a 
duchess. Take her away, Mrs. Pearce. If she gives you 
any trouble wallop her. 

Act Pygmalion 135 

Liza [springing up and running between Pickering 
and Mrs. Pearce for protection] No ! I'll call the police, 
I will. 

Mrs. Pearce. But Ive no place to put her. 

Higgins. Put her in the dustbin. 

Liza. Ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-oo ! 

Pickering. Oh come, Higgins ! be reasonable. 

Mrs. Pearce [resolutely] You must be reasonable, Mr. 
Higgins: really you must. You cant walk over every- 
body like this. 

Higgins, thus scolded, subsides. The hurricane is suc- 
ceeded by a zephyr of amiable surprise. 

Higgins [with professional exquisiteness of modula- 
tion] I walk over everybody! My dear Mrs. Pearce, 
my dear Pickering, I never had the slightest intention of 
walking over anyone. All I propose is that we should 
be kind to this poor girl. We must help her to prepare 
and fit herself for her new station in life. If I did not 
express myself clearly it was because I did not wish to 
hurt her delicacy, or yours. 

Liza, reassured, steals bach to her chair. 

Mrs. Pearce [to Pickering] Well, did you ever hear 
anything like that, sir? 

Pickering [laughing heartily] Never, Mrs. Pearce: 

Higgins [patiently] Whats the matter? 

Mrs. Pearce. Well, the matter is, sir, that you cant 
take a girl up like that as if you were picking up a 
pebble on the beach. 

Higgins. Why not? 

Mrs. Pearce. Why not! But you dont know any- 
thing about her. What about her parents ? She may be 

Liza. Garn ! 

Higgins. There! As the girl very properly says, 
Garn ! Married indeed ! Dont you know that a woman of 

136 Pygmalion Act II 

that class looks a worn out drudge of fifty a year after 
shes married. 

Liza. Whood marry me? 

Higgins [suddenly resorting to the most thrillingly 
beautiful low tones in his best elocutionary style] By 
George, Eliza, the streets will be strewn with the bodies 
of men shooting themselves for your sake before Ive done 
with you. 

Mrs. Pearce. Nonsense, sir. You mustnt talk like 
that to her. 

Liza [rising and squaring herself determinedly] I'm 
going away. He's off his chump, he is. I dont want no 
balmies teaching me. 

Higgins [wounded in his tender est point by her insen- 
sibility to his elocution~\ Oh, indeed! I'm mad, am I? 
Very well, Mrs. Pearce : you neednt order the new clothes 
for her. Throw her out. 

Liza [whimpering] Nah-ow. You got no right to 
touch me. 

Mrs. Pearce. You see now what comes of being 
saucy. [Indicating the door] This way, please. 

Liza [almost in tears] I didnt want no clothes. I 
wouldnt have taken them [she throws away the handker- 
chief]. I can buy my own clothes. 

Higgins [deftly retrieving the handkerchief and inter- 
cepting her on her reluctant way to the door] Youre an 
ungrateful wicked girl. This is my return for offering 
to take you out of the gutter and dress you beautifully 
and make a lady of you. 

Mrs. Pearce. Stop, Mr. Higgins. I wont allow it. 
It's you that are wicked. Go home to your parents, girl ; 
and tell them to take better care of you. 

Liza. I aint got no parents. They told me I was big 
enough to earn my own living and turned me out. 

Mrs. Pearce. Wheres your mother? 

Liza. I aint got no mother. Her that turned me out 

Act II Pygmalion 137 

was my sixth stepmother. But I done without them. And 
I'm a good girl, I am. 

Higgins. Very well, then, what on earth is all this 
fuss about? The girl doesnt belong to anybody — is no 
use to anybody but me. [He goes to Mrs. Pearce and be- 
gins coaxing]. You can adopt her, Mrs. Pearce: I'm 
sure a daughter would be a great amusement to you. Now 
dont make any more fuss. Take her downstairs ; and — 

Mrs. Pearce. But whats to become of her ? Is she to 
be paid anything? Do be sensible, sir. 

Higgins. Oh, pay her whatever is necessary: put it 
down in the housekeeping book. [Impatiently] What on 
earth will she want with money? She'll have her food 
and her clothes. She'll only drink if you give her money. 

Liza [turning on him] Oh you are a brute. It's a lie: 
nobody ever saw the sign of liquor on me. [She goes 
back to her chair and plants herself there defiantly]. 

Pickering [in good-humored remonstrance] Does it 
occur to you, Higgins, that the girl has some feelings ? 

Higgins [looking critically at her] Oh no, I dont think 
so. Not any feelings that we need bother about. 
[Cheerily] Have you, Eliza ? 

Liza. I got my feelings same as anyone else. 

Higgins [to Pickering, reflectively] You see the diffi- 
culty ? 

Pickering. Eh? What difficulty? 

Higgins. To get her to talk grammar. The mere pro- 
nunciation is easy enough. 

Liza. I dont want to talk grammar. I want to talk 
like a lady. 

Mrs. Pearce. Will you please keep to the point, Mr. 
Higgins. I want to know on what terms the girl is to be 
here. Is she to have any wages ? And what is to become 
of her when youve finished your teaching? You must 
look ahead a little. 

138 Pygmalion Act II 

Higgins [impatiently] Whats to become of her if I 
leave her in the gutter ? Tell me that, Mrs. Pearce. 

Mrs. Pearce. Thats her own business, not yours, 
Mr. Higgins. 

Higgins. Well, when Ive done with her, we can throw 
her back into the gutter; and then it will be her own 
business again; so thats all right. 

Liza. Oh, youve no feeling heart in you: you dont care 
for nothing but yourself [she rises and takes the floor 
resolutely]. Here! Ive Tiad enough of this. I'm going 
[making for the door]. You ought to be ashamed of 
yourself, you ought. 

Higgins [snatching a chocolate cream from the piano, 
his eyes suddenly beginning to twinkle with mischief] 
Have some chocolates, Eliza. 

Liza [halting, tempted] How do I know what might be 
in them? Ive heard of girls being drugged by the like 
of you. 

Higgins whips out his penknife; cuts a chocolate in 
two; puts one half into his mouth and bolts it; and offers 
her the other half. 

Higgins. Pledge of good faith, Eliza. I eat one half : 
you eat the other. [Liza opens her mouth to retort: he 
pops the half chocolate into it]. You shall have boxes 
of them, barrels of them, every day. You shall live on 
them. Eh? 

Liza [who has disposed of the chocolate after being 
nearly choked by it] I wouldnt have ate it, only I'm too 
ladylike to take it out of my mouth. 

Higgins. Listen, Eliza. I think you said you came in 
a taxi. 

Liza. Well, what if I did ? Ive as good a right to take 
a taxi as anyone else. 

Higgins. You have, Eliza; and in future you shall 
have as many taxis as you want. You shall go up and 

Act II Pygmalion 139 

down and round the town in a taxi every day. Think of 
that, Eliza. 

Mrs. Pearce. Mr. Higgins: youre tempting the girl. 
It's not right. She should think of the future. 

Higgins. At her age! Nonsense! Time enough to 
think of the future when you havnt any future to think 
of. No, Eliza: do as this lady does: think of other 
people's futures; but never think of your own. Think 
of chocolates, and taxis, and gold, and diamonds. 

Liza. No: I dont want no gold and no diamonds. 
I'm a good girl, I am. [She sits down again, with an 
attempt at dignity"]. 

Higgins. You shall remain so, Eliza, under the care of 
Mrs. Pearce. And you shall marry an officer in the 
Guards, with a beautiful moustache: the son of a mar- 
quis, who will disinherit him for marrying you, but will 
relent when he sees your beauty and goodness — 

Pickering. Excuse me, Higgins; but I really must 
interfere. Mrs. Pearce is quite right. If this girl is 
to put herself in your hands for six months for an ex- 
periment in teaching, she must understand thoroughly 
what shes doing. 

Higgins. How can she? Shes incapable of under- 
standing anything. Besides, do any of us understand 
what we are doing? If we did, would we ever do it? 

Pickering. Very clever, Higgins; but not sound 
sense. [To Eliza] Miss Doolittle — 

Liza [overwhelmed] Ah-ah-ow-oo! 

Higgins. There! Thats all you get out of Eliza. 
Ah-ah-ow-oo ! No use explaining. As a military man you 
ought to know that. Give her her orders : thats what she 
wants. Eliza: you are to live here for the next six 
months, learning how to speak beautifully, like a lady in 
a florist's shop. If youre good and do whatever youre 
told, you shall sleep in a proper bedroom, and have lots 
to eat, and money to buy chocolates and take rides in 

140 Pygmalion Act II 

taxis. If youre naughty and idle you will sleep in the 
back kitchen among the black beetles, and be walloped 
by Mrs. Pearce with a broomstick. At the end of six 
months you shall go to Buckingham Palace in a carriage, 
beautifully dressed. If the King finds out youre not a 
lady, you will be taken by the police to the Tower of 
London, where your head will be cut off as a warning to 
other presumptuous flower girls. If you are not found 
out, you shall have a present of seven-and-sixpence to 
start life with as a lady in a shop. If you refuse this 
offer you will be a most ungrateful and wicked girl ; and 
the angels will weep for you. [To Pickering] Now are 
you satisfied, Pickering? [To Mrs. Pearce] Can I put it 
more plainly and fairly, Mrs. Pearce? 

Mrs. Pearce ['patiently'] I think youd better let me 
speak to the girl properly in private. I dont know that 
I can take charge of her or consent to the arrangement 
at all. Of course I know you dont mean her any harm; 
but when you get what you call interested in people's ac- 
cents, you never think or care what may happen to them 
or you. Come with me, Eliza. 

Higgins. Thats all right. Thank you, Mrs. Pearce. 
Bundle her off to the bath-room. 

Liza [rising reluctantly and suspiciously] Youre a 
great bully, you are. I wont stay here if I dont like. I 
wont let nobody wallop me. I never asked to go to Buck- 
nam Palace, I didnt. I was never in trouble with the 
police, not me. I'm a good girl — 

Mrs. Pearce. Dont answer back, girl. You dont 
understand the gentleman. Come with me. [She leads 
the way to the door, and holds it open for Eliza]. 

Liza [as she goes out] Well, what I say is right. I 
wont go near the king, not if I'm going to have my head 
cut off. If I'd known what I was letting myself in for, 
I wouldnt have come here. I always been a good girl; 
and I never offered to say a word to him ; and I dont owe 

Act II Pygmalion 141 

him nothing; and I dont care; and I wont be put upon; 
and I have my feelings the same as anyone else — 

Mrs. Pearce shuts the door; and Eliza's plaints are no 
longer audible. Pickering comes from the hearth to the 
chair and sits astride it with his arms on the back. 

Pickering. Excuse the straight question, Higgins. 
Are you a man of good character where women are con- 
cerned ? 

Higgins [moodily] Have you ever met a man of good 
character where women are concerned ? 

Pickering. Yes: very frequently. 

Higgins [dogmatically, lifting himself on his hands to 
the level of the piano, and sitting on it with a bounce] 
Well, I havnt. I find that the moment I let a woman 
make friends with me, she becomes jealous, exacting, 
suspicious, and a damned nuisance. I find that the mo- 
ment I let myself make friends with a woman, I become 
selfish and tyrannical. Women upset everything. When 
you let them into your life, you find that the woman is 
driving at one thing and youre driving at another. 

Pickering. At what, for example? 

Higgins [coming off the piano restlessly] Oh, Lord 
knows ! I suppose the woman wants to live her own life ; 
and the man wants to live his ; and each tries to drag the 
other on to the wrong track. One wants to go north and 
the other south ; and the result is that both have to go east, 
though they both hate the east wind. [He sits down on 
the bench at the keyboard]. So here I am, a confirmed 
old bachelor, and likely to remain so. 

Pickering [rising and standing over him gravely] 
Come, Higgins ! You know what I mean. If I'm to be in 
this business I shall feel responsible for that girl. I 
hope it's understood that no advantage is to be taken of 
her position. 

Higgins. What ! That thing ! Sacred, I assure you. 
[Rising to explain] You see, she'll be a pupil; and teach- 

142 Pygmalion Act II 

ing would be impossible unless pupils were sacred. Ive 
taught scores of American millionairesses how to speak 
English: the best looking women in the world. I'm 
seasoned. They might as well be blocks of wood. / 
might as well be a block of wood. It's — 

Mrs. Pearce opens the door. She has Eliza's hat in her 
hand. Pickering retires to the easy-chair at the hearth 
and sits down. 

Higgins [eagerly"] Well, Mrs. Pearce: is it all right? 

Mrs. Pearce [at the door] I just wish to trouble you 
with a word, if I may, Mr. Higgins. 

Higgins. Yes, certainly. Come in. [She comes for- 
ward]. Dont burn that, Mrs. Pearce. I'll keep it as a 
curiosity. [He takes the hat], 

Mrs. Pearce. Handle it carefully, sir, please. I had 
to promise her not to burn it; but I had better put it in 
the oven for a while. 

Higgins [putting it down hastily on the piano] Oh! 
thank you. Well, what have you to say to me? 

Pickering. Am I in the way? 

Mrs. Pearce. Not at all, sir. Mr. Higgins: will you 
please be very particular what you say before the girl? 

Higgins [sternly] Of course. I'm always particular 
about what I say. Why do you say this to me ? 

Mrs. Pearce [unmoved] No, sir : youre not at all par- 
ticular when youve mislaid anything or when you get a 
little impatient. Now it doesnt matter before me: I'm 
used to it. But you really must not swear before the girl. 

Higgins [indignantly] I swear! [Most emphatically] 
I never swear. I detest the habit. What the devil do you 
mean ? 

Mrs. Pearce [stolidly] Thats what I mean, sir. You 
swear a great deal too much. I dont mind your damning 
and blasting, and what the devil and where the devil and 
who the devil — 

Act II Pygmalion 143 

Higgins. Mrs. Pearce: this language from your lips! 

Mrs. Pearce [not to be put off] — but there is a cer- 
tain word I must ask you not to use. The girl has just 
used it herself because the bath was too hot. It begins 
with the same letter as bath. She knows no better: she 
learnt it at her mother's knee. But she must not hear it 
from your lips. 

Higgins [loftily] I cannot charge myself with having 
ever uttered it, Mrs. Pearce. [She looks at him stead- 
fastly. He adds, hiding an uneasy conscience with a 
judicial air] Except perhaps in a moment of extreme and 
justifiable excitement. 

Mrs. Pearce. Only this morning, sir, you applied it 
to your boots, to the butter, and to the brown bread. 

Higgins. Oh, that! Mere alliteration, Mrs. Pearce, 
natural to a poet. 

Mrs. Pearce. Well, sir, whatever you choose to call it, 
I beg you not to let the girl hear you repeat it. 

Higgins. Oh, very well, very well. Is that all? 

Mrs. Pearce. No, sir. We shall have to be very par- 
ticular with this girl as to personal cleanliness. 

Higgins. Certainly. Quite right. Most important. 

Mrs. Pearce. I mean not to be slovenly about her 
dress or untidy in leaving things about. 

Higgins [going to her solemnly] Just so. I intended 
to call your attention to that [He passes on to Pickering, 
who is enjoying the conversation immensely]. It is these 
little things that matter, Pickering. Take care of the 
pence and the pounds will take care of themselves is as 
true of personal habits as of money. [He comes to anchor 
on the hearthrug, with the air of a man in an unassail- 
able position], 

Mrs. Pearce. Yes, sir. Then might I ask you not to 
come down to breakfast in your dressing-gown, or at 
any rate not to use it as a napkin to the extent you do, 

144 Pygmalion Act II 

sir. And if you would be so good as not to eat every- 
thing off the same plate, and to remember not to put the 
porridge saucepan out of your hand on the clean table- 
cloth, it would be a better example to the girl. You 
know you nearly choked yourself with a fishbone in the 
jam only last week. 

Higgins [routed from the hearthrug and drifting back 
to the piano] I may do these things sometimes in absence 
of mind; but surely I dont do them habitually. [Angrily] 
By the way : my dressing-gown smells most damnably of 

Mrs. Pearce. No doubt it does, Mr. Higgins. But if 
you will wipe your fingers — 

Higgins [yelling"] Oh very well, very well: I'll wipe 
them in my hair in future. 

Mrs. Pearce. I hope youre not offended, Mr. Higgins. 

Higgins [shocked at finding himself thought capable 
of an unamiable sentiment] Not at all, not at all. Youre 
quite right, Mrs. Pearce: I shall be particularly careful 
before the girl. Is that all? 

Mrs. Pearce. No, sir. Might she use some of those 
Japanese dresses you brought from abroad? I really 
cant put her back into her old things. 

Higgins. Certainly. Anything you like. Is that all? 

Mrs. Pearce. Thank you, sir. Thats all. [She goes 

Higgins. You know, Pickering, that woman has the 
most extraordinary ideas about me. Here I am, a shy, 
diffident sort of man. Ive never been able to feel really 
grown-up and tremendous, like other chaps. And yet 
shes firmly persuaded that I'm an arbitrary overbearing 
bossing kind of person. I cant account for it. 

Mrs. Pearce returns. 

Mrs. Pearce. If you please, sir, the trouble's be- 
ginning already. Theres a dustman downstairs, Alfred 

Act II Pygmalion 145 

Doolittle, wants to see you. He says you have his daugh- 
ter here. 

Pickering [rising] Phew! I say! [He retreats to the 
hearthrug'] . 

Higgins [promptly] Send the blackguard up. 

Mrs. Pearce. Oh, very well, sir. [She goes out], 

Pickering. He may not be a blackguard, Higgins. 

Higgins. Nonsense. Of course hes a blackguard. 

Pickering. Whether he is or not, I'm afraid we shall 
have some trouble with him. 

Higgins [confidently] Oh no: I think not. If theres 
any trouble he shall have it with me, not I with him. And 
we are sure to get something interesting out of him. 

Pickering. About the girl? 

Higgins. No. I mean his dialect. 

Pickering. Oh ! 

Mrs. Pearce [at the door] Doolittle, sir. [She admits 
Doolittle and retires]. 

Alfred Doolittle is an elderly but vigorous dustman, 
clad in the costume of his profession, including a hat with 
a bach brim covering his neck and shoulders. He has well 
marked and rather interesting features, and seems equally 
free from fear and conscience. He has a remarkably ex- 
pressive voice, the result of a habit of giving vent to his 
feelings without reserve. His present pose is that of 
wounded honor and stern resolution. 

Doolittle [at the door, uncertain which of the two 
gentlemen is his man] Professor Higgins? 

Higgins. Here. Good morning. Sit down. 

Doolittle. Morning, Governor. [He sits down magis- 
terially] I come about a very serious matter, Governor. 

Higgins [to Pickering] Brought up in Hounslow. 
Mother Welsh, I should think. [Doolittle opens his 
mouth, amazed. Higgins continues] What do you want, 


146 Pygmalion Act II 

Doolittle [menacingly] I want my daughter: thats 
what I want. See? 

Higgins. Of course you do. Youre her father, arnt 
you? You dont suppose anyone else wants her, do you? 
I'm glad to see you have some spark of family feeling 
left. Shes upstairs. Take her away at once. 

Doolittle [rising, fearfully taken aback] What! 

Higgins. Take her away. Do you suppose I'm going 
to keep your daughter for you? 

Doolittle [remonstrating'] Now, now, look here, 
Governor. Is this reasonable? Is it fairity to take ad- 
vantage of a man like this ? The girl belongs to me. You 
got her. Where do I come in ? [He sits down again]. 

Higgins. Your daughter had the audacity to come to 
my house and ask me to teach her how to speak properly 
so that she could get a place in a flower-shop. This gen- 
tleman and my housekeeper have been here all the time. 
[Bullying him] How dare you come here and attempt to 
blackmail me? You sent her here on purpose. 

Doolittle [protesting] No, Governor. 

Higgins. You must have. How else could you possibly 
know that she is here? 

Doolittle. Dont take a man up like that, Governor. 

Higgins. The police shall take you up. This is a 
plant — a plot to extort money by threats. I shall tele- 
phone for the police [he goes resolutely to the telephone 
and opens the directory]. 

Doolittle. Have I asked you for a brass farthing? 
I leave it to the gentleman here : have I said a word about 
money ? 

Higgins [throwing the book aside and marching down 
on Doolittle with a poser] What else did you come for ? 

Doolittle [sweetly] Well, what would a man come 
for? Be human, Governor. 

Higgins [disarmed] Alfred: did you put her up to it? 

Doolittle. So help me, Governor, I never did. I 

Act II Pygmalion 147 

take my Bible oath I aint seen the girl these two months 

Higgins. Then how did you know she was here ? 

Doolittle ["most musical, most melancholy"] I'll tell 
you, Governor, if youll only let me get a word in. I'm 
willing to tell you. I'm wanting to tell you. I'm waiting 
to tell you. 

Higgins. Pickering: this chap has a certain natural 
gift of rhetoric. Observe the rhythm of his native wood- 
notes wild. "I'm willing to tell you: I'm wanting to tell 
you: I'm waiting to tell you." Sentimental rhetoric ! thats 
the Welsh strain in him. It also accounts for his men- 
dacity and dishonesty. 

Pickering. Oh, please, Higgins : I'm -west country 
myself. [To Doolittle] How did you know the girl was 
here if you didnt send her? 

Doolittle. It was like this, Governor. The girl took 
a boy in the taxi to give him a jaunt. Son of her land- 
lady, he is. He hung about on the chance of her giving 
him another ride home. Well, she sent him back for her 
luggage when she heard you was willing for her to stop 
here. I met the boy at the corner of Long Acre and 
Endell Street. 

Higgins. Public house. Yes? 

Doolittle. The poor man's club, Governor: why 
shouldnt I? 

Pickering. Do let him tell his story, Higgins. 

Doolittle. He told me what was up. And I ask you, 
what was my feelings and my duty as a father? I says 
to the boy, "You bring me the luggage," I says — 

Pickering. Why didnt you go for it yourself? 

Doolittle. Landlady wouldnt have trusted me with 
it, Governor. Shes that kind of woman: you know. I 
had to give the boy a penny afore he trusted me with it, 
the little swine. I brought it to her just to oblige you 
like, and make myself agreeable. Thats all. 

148 Pygmalion Act II 

Higgins. How much luggage? 

Doolittle. Musical instrument, Governor. A few 
pictures, a trifle of jewelry, and a bird-cage. She said 
she didnt want no clothes. What was I to think from 
that, Governor? I ask you as a parent what was I to 

Higgins. So you came to rescue her from worse than 
death, eh? 

Doolittle [appreciatively : relieved at being so well 
understood] Just so, Governor. Thats right. 

Pickering. But why did you bring her luggage if you 
intended to take her away? 

Doolittle. Have I said a word about taking her 
away? Have I now? 

Higgins [determinedly'] Youre going to take her away, 
double quick. [He crosses to the hearth and rings the 

Doolittle [rising] No, Governor. Dont say that. I'm 
not the man to stand in my girl's light. Heres a career 
opening for her, as you might say; and— 

Mrs. Pearce opens the door and awaits orders. 

Higgins. Mrs. Pearce: this is Eliza's father. He has 
come to take her away. Give her to him. [He goes back 
to the piano, with an air of washing his hands of the 
whole affair]. 

Doolittle. No. This is a misunderstanding. Listen 
here — 

Mrs. Pearce. He cant take her away, Mr. Higgins: 
how can he ? You told me to burn her clothes. 

Doolittle. Thats right. I cant carry the girl through 
the streets like a blooming monkey, can I ? I put it to you. 

Higgins. You have put it to me that you want your 
daughter. Take your daughter. If she has no clothes 
go out and buy her some. 

Doolittle [desperate] Wheres the clothes she' come 
in? Did I burn them or did your missus here? 

Act II Pygmalion 149 

Mrs. Pearce. I am the housekeeper, if you please. I 
have sent for some clothes for your girl. When they 
come you can take her away. You can wait in the kitchen. 
This way, please. 

Doolittle, much troubled, accompanies her to the door; 
then hesitates; finally turns confidentially to Higgins. 

Doolittle. Listen here, Governor. You and me is 
men of the world, aint we ? 

Higgins. Oh ! Men of the world, are we ? Youd bet- 
ter go, Mrs. Pearce. 

Mrs. Pearce. I think so, indeed, sir. [She goes, with 

Pickering. The floor is yours, Mr. Doolittle. 

Doolittle [to Pickering] I thank you, Governor. [To 
Higgins, who takes refuge on the piano bench, a little 
overwhelmed by the proximity of his visitor; for Doolittle 
has a professional flavor of dust about him]. Well, the 
truth is, Ive taken a sort of fancy to you, Governor ; and 
if you want the girl, I'm not so set on having her back 
home again but what I might be open to an arrangement. 
Regarded in the light of a young woman, shes a fine 
handsome girl. As a daughter shes not worth her keep; 
and so I tell you straight. All I ask is my rights as a 
father; and youre the last man alive to expect me to let 
her go for nothing ; for I can see youre one of the straight 
sort, Governor. Well, whats a five pound note to you? 
And whats Eliza to me ? [He returns to his chair and sits 
down judicially]. 

Pickering. I think you ought to know, Doolittle, that 
Mr. Higgins's intentions are entirely honorable. 

Doolittle. Course they are, Governor. If I thought 
they wasnt, Id ask fifty. 

Higgins [revolted] Do you mean to say, you callous 
rascal, that you would sell your daughter for £50 ? 

Doolittle. Not in a general way I wouldnt; but to 

150 Pygmalion Act II 

oblige a gentleman like you I'd do do a good deal, I do 
assure you. 

Pickering. Have you no morals, man? 

Doolittle [unabashed] Cant afford them, Governor. 
Neither could you if you was as poor as me. Not that I 
mean any harm, you know. But if Liza is going to have 
a bit out of this, why not me too ? 

Higgins [troubled'] I dont know what to do, Pickering. 
There can be no question that as a matter of morals it's 
a positive crime to give this chap a farthing. And yet I 
feel a sort of rough justice in his claim. 

Doolittle. Thats it, Governor. Thats all I say. A 
father's heart, as it were. 

Pickering. Well, I know the feeling; but really it 
seems hardly right — 

Doolittle. Dont say that, Governor. Dont look at it 
that way. What am I, Governors both ? I ask you, what 
am I ? I'm one of the undeserving poor : thats what I am. 
Think of what that means to a man. It means that hes up 
agen middle class morality all the time. If theres any- 
thing going, and I put in for a bit of it, it's always the 
same story: "Youre undeserving; so you cant have it." 
But my needs is as great as the most deserving widow's 
that ever got money out of six different charities in one 
week for the death of the same husband. I dont need less 
than a deserving man: I need more. I dont eat less 
hearty than him ; and I drink a lot more. I want a bit of 
amusement, cause I'm a thinking man. I want cheerful- 
ness and a song and a band when I feel low. Well, they 
charge me just the same for everything as they charge 
the deserving. What is middle class morality? Just an 
excuse for never giving me anything. Therefore, I ask 
you, as two gentlemen, not to play that game on me. 
I'm playing straight with you. I aint pretending to be 
deserving. I'm undeserving; and I mean to go on being 
undeserving. I like it; and thats the truth. Will you 

Act II Pygmalion 151 

take advantage of a man's nature to do him out of the 
price of his own daughter what hes brought up and fed 
and clothed by the sweat of his brow until shes growed 
big enough to be interesting to you two gentlemen? Is 
five pounds unreasonable? I put it to you; and I leave 
it to you. 

Higgins [rising, and going over to Pickering] Picker- 
ing: if we were to take this man in hand for three months, 
he could choose between a seat in the Cabinet and a popu- 
lar pulpit in Wales. 

Pickering. What do you say to that, Doolittle? 

Doolittle. Not me, Governor, thank you kindly. Ive 
heard all the preachers and all the prime ministers — for 
I'm a thinking man and game for politics or religion or 
social reform same as all the other amusements — and I 
tell you it's a dog's life anyway you look at it. Unde- 
serving poverty is my line. Taking one station in society 
with another, it's — it's — well, it's the only one that has 
any ginger in it, to my taste. 

Higgins. I suppose we must give him a fiver. 

Pickering. He'll make a bad use of it, I'm afraid. 

Doolittle. Not me, Governor, so help me I wont. 
Dont you be afraid that I'll save it and spare it and live 
idle on it. There wont be a penny of it left by Monday : 
I'll have to go to work same as if I'd never had it. It 
wont pauperize me, you bet. Just one good spree for 
myself and the missus, giving pleasure to ourselves and 
employment to others, and satisfaction to you to think it's 
not been throwed away. You couldnt spend it better. 

Higgins [taking out his pocket book and coming be- 
tween Doolittle and the piano] This is irresistible. Lets 
give him ten. [He offers two notes to the dustman']. 

Doolittle. No, Governor. She wouldnt have the 
heart to spend ten ; and perhaps I shouldnt neither. Ten 
pounds is a lot of money: it makes a man feel prudent 
like; and then goodbye to happiness. You give me what 

152 Pygmalion Act II 

I ask you, Governor : not a penny more, and not a penny 

Pickering. Why dont you marry that missus of yours ? 
I rather draw the line at encouraging that sort of im- 

Doolittle. Tell her so, Governor: tell her so. I'm 
willing. It's me that suffers by it. Ive no hold on her. 
I got to be agreeable to her. I got to give her presents. 
I got to buy her clothes something sinful. I'm a slave to 
that woman, Governor, just because I'm not her lawful 
husband. And she knows it too. Catch her marrying 
me ! Take my advice, Governor : marry Eliza while shes 
young and dont know no better. If you dont youll be 
sorry for it after. If you do, she'll be sorry for it after; 
but better you than her, because youre a man, and shes 
only a woman and dont know how to be happy anyhow. 

Higgins. Pickering: if we listen to this man another 
minute, we shall have no convictions left. [To Doolittle] 
Five pounds I think you said. 

Doolittle. Thank you kindly, Governor. 

Higgins. Youre sure you wont take ten ? 

Doolittle. Not now. Another time, Governor. 

Higgins [handing him a five-pound note] Here you are. 

Doolittle. Thank you, Governor. Good morning. 
[He hurries to the door, anxious to get away with his 
booty. When he opens it he is confronted with a dainty 
and exquisitely clean young Japanese lady in a simple 
blue cotton kimono printed cunningly with small white 
jasmine blossoms. Mrs. Pearce is with her. He gets out 
of her way deferentially and apologizes]. Beg pardon, 

The Japanese Lady. Garn ! Dont you know your own 
daughter ? 

Doolittle 1 exclaiming f Bly me ! it's Eliza ! 

Higgins [ simul- \ Whats that! This! 

Pickering J taneously [ By Jove ! 

Act II Pygmalion 153 

Liza. Dont I look silly? 

Higgins. Silly ? 

Mrs. Pearce [at the door] Now, Mr. Higgins, please 
dont say anything to make the girl conceited about her- 

Higgins [conscientiously"] Oh! Quite right, Mrs. 
Pearce. [To Eliza] Yes: damned silly. 

Mrs. Pearce. Please, sir. 

Higgins [correcting himself] I mean extremely silly. 

Liza. I should look all right with my hat on. [She 
takes up her hat; puts it on; and walks across the room 
to the fireplace with a fashionable air], 

Higgins. A new fashion, by George ! And it ought to 
look horrible! 

Doolittle [with fatherly pride] Well, I never thought 
she'd clean up as good looking as that, Governor. Shes 
a credit to me, aint she ? 

Liza. I tell you, it's easy to clean up here. Hot and 
cold water on tap, just as much as you like, there is. 
Woolly towels, there is ; and a towel horse so hot, it burns 
your fingers. Soft brushes to scrub yourself, and a 
wooden bowl of soap smelling like primroses. Now I 
know why ladies is so clean. Washing's a treat for them. 
Wish they saw what it is for the like of me ! 

Higgins. I'm glad the bath-room met with your ap- 

Liza. It didnt: not all of it; and I dont care who hears 
me say it. Mrs. Pearce knows. 

Higgins. What was wrong, Mrs. Pearce? 

Mrs. Pearce [blandly] Oh, nothing, sir. It doesnt 

Liza. I had a good mind to break it. I didnt know 
which way to look. But I hung a towel over it, I did. 

Higgins. Over what? 

Mrs. Pearce. Over the looking-glass, sir. 

154 Pygmalion Act II 

Higgins. Doolittle: you have brought your daughter 
up too strictly. 

Doolittle. Me ! I never brought her up at all, except 
to give her a lick of a strap now and again. Dont put it 
on me, Governor. She aint accustomed to it, you see: 
thats all. But she'll soon pick up your free-and-easy 

Liza. I'm a good girl, I am; and I wont pick up no 
free and easy ways. 

Higgins. Eliza: if you say again that youre a good 
girl, your father shall take you home. 

Liza. Not him. You dont know my father. All he 
come here for was to touch you for some money to get 
drunk on. 

Doolittle. Well, what else would I want money for? 
To put into the plate in church, I suppose. [She puts out 
her tongue at him. He is so incensed by this that Picker- 
ing presently finds it necessary to step between them], 
Dont you give me none of your lip; and dont let me hear 
you giving this gentleman any of it neither, or youll hear 
from me about it. See? 

Higgins. Have you any further advice to give her 
before you go, Doolittle? Your blessing, for instance. 

Doolittle. No, Governor: I aint such a mug as to put 
up my children to all I know myself. Hard enough to 
hold them in without that. If you want Eliza's mind im- 
proved, Governor, you do it yourself with a strap. So 
long, gentlemen. [He turns to go]. 

Higgins [impressively'] Stop. Youll come regularly 
to see your daughter. It's your duty, you know. My 
brother is a clergyman; and he could help you in your 
talks with her. 

Doolittle [evasively] Certainly. I'll come, Gov- 
ernor. Not just this week, because I have a job at a dis- 
tance. But later on you may depend on me. Afternoon, 
gentlemen. Afternoon, maam. [He takes off his hat to 

Act II Pygmalion 155 

Mrs. Pearce, who disdains the salutation and goes out. 
He winks at Higgins, thinking him probably a fellow- 
sufferer from Mrs. Pearce's difficult disposition, and fol- 
lows her]. 

Liza. Dont you believe the old liar. He'd as soon you 
set a bull-dog on him as a clergyman. You wont see him 
again in a hurry. 

Higgins. I dont want to, Eliza. Do you? 

Liza. Not me. I dont want never to see him again, I 
dont. Hes a disgrace to me, he is, collecting dust, in- 
stead of working at his trade. 

Pickering. What is his trade, Eliza? 

Liza. Talking money out of other people's pockets into 
his own. His proper trade's a navvy; and he works at 
it sometimes too — for exercise — and earns good money 
at it. Aint you going to call me Miss Doolittle any more ? 

Pickering. I beg your pardon, Miss Doolittle. It was 
a slip of the tongue. 

Liza. Oh, I dont mind; only it sounded so genteel. I 
should just like to take a taxi to the corner of Tottenham 
Court JRoad and get out there and tell it to wait for me, 
just to put the girls in their place a bit. I wouldnt speak 
to them, you know. 

Pickering. Better wait til we get you something 
really fashionable. 

Higgins. Besides, you shouldnt cut your old friends 
now that you have risen in the world. Thats what we call 

Liza. You dont call the like of them my friends now, 
I should hope. Theyve took it out of me often enough 
with their ridicule when they had the chance ; and now I 
mean to get a bit of my own back. But if I'm to have 
fashionable clothes, I'll wait. I should like to have 
some. Mrs. Pearce says youre going to give me some to 
wear in bed at night different to what I wear in the day- 
time; but it do seem a waste of money when you could 

156 Pygmalion Act II 

get something to shew. Besides, I never could fancy 
changing into cold things on a winter night. 

Mrs. Pearce [coming back] Now, Eliza. The new 
things have come for you to try on. 

Liza. Ah-ow-oo-ooh ! [She rushes out']. 

Mrs. Pearce [following her] Oh, dont rush about like 
that, girl [She shuts the door behind her], 

Higgins. Pickering: we have taken on a stiff job. 

Pickering [with conviction] Higgins: we have. 


It is Mrs. Higgins's at-home day. Nobody has yet ar- 
rived. Her drawing-room, in a flat on Chelsea embank- 
ment, has three windows looking on the river; and the 
ceiling is not so lofty as it would be in an older house of 
the same pretension. The windows are open, giving access 
to a balcony with flowers in pots. If you stand with your 
face to the windows, you have the fireplace on your left 
and the door in the right-hand wall close to the corner 
nearest the windows. 

Mrs. Higgins was brought up on Morris and Burne 
Jones; and her room, which is very unlike her son*s room 
in Wimpole Street, is not crowded with furniture and 
little tables and nicknacks. In the middle of the room 
there is a big ottoman; and this, with the carpet, the\ 
Morris wall-papers, and the Morris chintz window cur- 
tains and brocade covers of the ottoman and its cushions, 
supply all the ornament, and are much too handsome to 
be hidden by odds and ends of useless things. A few good 
oil-paintings from the exhibitions in the Grosvenor Gal- 
lery thirty years ago {the Burne Jones, not the Whistler 
side of them) are on the walls. The only landscape is a 
Cecil Lawson on the scale of a Rubens. There is a por- 
trait of Mrs. Higgins as she was when she defied fashion 
in her youth in one of the beautiful Rossettian costumes 
which, when caricatured by people who did not under- 
stand, led to the absurdities of popular estheticism in the 
eighteen- seventies. 

In the corner diagonally opposite the door Mrs. Hig- 
gins, now over sixty and long past taking the trouble to 


158 Pygmalion Act III 

dress out of the fashion, sits writing at an elegantly 
simple writing-table with a bell button within reach of 
her hand. There is a Chippendale chair further back in 
the room between her and the window nearest her side. 
At the other side of the room, further forward, is an 
Elizabethan chair roughly carved in the taste of Inigo 
Jones. On the same side a piano in a decorated case. The 
corner between the fireplace and the window is occupied 
by a divan cushioned in Morris chintz. 

It is between four and five in the afternoon. 

The door is opened violently; and Higgins enters with 
his hat on. 

Mrs. Higgins [dismayed] Henry [scolding him] ! 
What are you doing here to-day ? It is my at-home day : 
you promised not to come. [As he bends to kiss her, she 
takes his hat off, and presents it to him]. 

Higgins. Oh bother ! [He throws the hat down on the 

Mrs. Higgins. Go home at once. 

Higgins [kissing her] I know, mother. I came on pur- 

Mrs. Higgins. But you mustnt. I'm serious, Henry. 
You offend all my friends: they stop coming whenever 
they meet you. 

Higgins. Nonsense ! I know I have no small talk ; but 
people dont mind. [He sits on the settee]. 

Mrs. Higgins. Oh! dont they? Small talk indeed! 
What about your large talk? Really, dear, you mustnt 

Higgins. I must. Ive a job for you. A phonetic job. 

Mrs. Higgins. No use, dear. I'm sorry; but I cant 
get round your vowels; and though I like to get pretty 
postcards in your patent shorthand, I always have to read 
the copies in ordinary writing you so thoughtfully send 

Higgins. Well, this isnt a phonetic job. 

Act III Pygmalion 159 

Mrs. Higgins. You said it was. 

Higgins. Not your part of it. Ive picked up a girl. 

Mrs. Higgins. Does that mean that some girl has 
picked you up? 

Higgins. Not at all. I dont mean a love affair. 

Mrs. Higgins. What a pity ! 

Higgins. Why ? 

Mrs. Higgins. Well, you never fall in love with any- 
one under forty-five. When will you discover that there 
are some rather nice-looking young women about ? 

Higgins. Oh, I cant be bothered with young women. 
My idea of a loveable woman is something as like you as 
possible. I shall never get into the way of seriously 
liking young women: some habits lie too deep to be 
changed. [Rising abruptly and walking about, jingling 
his money and his keys in his trouser pockets] Besides, 
theyre all idiots. 

Mrs. Higgins. Do you know what you would do if you 
really loved me, Henry? 

Higgins. Oh bother! What? Marry, I suppose? 

Mrs. Higgins. No. Stop fidgeting and take your 
hands out of your pockets. [With a gesture of despair, 
he obeys and sits down again], Thats a good boy. Now 
tell me about the girl. 

Higgins. Shes coming to see you. 

Mrs. Higgins. I dont remember asking her. 

Higgins. You didnt. I asked her. If youd known her 
you wouldnt have asked her. 

Mrs. Higgins. Indeed! Why? 

Higgins. Well, it's like this. Shes a common flower 
girl. I picked her off the kerbstone. 

Mrs. Higgins. And invited her to my at-home ! 

Higgins [rising and coming to her to coax her] Oh, 
thatll be all right. Ive taught her to speak properly; 
and she has strict orders as to her behavior. Shes to keep 
to two subjects: the weather and everybody's health — 

160 Pygmalion Act III 

Fine day and How do you do, you know — and not to let 
herself go on things in general. That will be safe. 

Mrs. Higgins. Safe ! To talk about our health ! about 
our insides ! perhaps about our outsides ! How could you 
be so silly, Henry? 

Higgins [impatiently] Well, she must talk about 
something. [He controls himself and sits down again]. 
Oh, shell be all right: dont you fuss. Pickering is in it 
with me. Ive a sort of bet on that 111 pass her off as a 
duchess in six months. I started on her some months 
ago ; and shes getting on like a house on fire. I shall win 
my bet. She has a quick ear; and shes been easier to 
teach than my middle-class pupils because shes had to 
learn a complete new language. She talks English 
almost as you talk French. 

Mrs. Higgins. Thats satisfactory, at all events. 

Higgins. Well, it is and it isnt. 

Mrs. Higgins. What does that mean? 

Higgins. You see, Ive got her pronunciation all right ; 
but you have to consider not only how a girl pronounces, 
but what she pronounces ; and thats where — 

They are interrupted by the parlor-maid, announcing 

The Parlor-Maid. Mrs. and Miss Eynsford Hill. 
[She withdraws], 

Higgins. Oh Lord ! [He rises; snatches his hat from 
the table; and makes for the door; but before he reaches 
it his mother introduces him]. 

Mrs. and Miss Eynsford Hill are the mother and 
daughter who sheltered from the rain in Covent Garden. 
The mother is well bred, quiet, and has the habitual 
anxiety of straitened means. The daughter has acquired 
a gay air of being very much at home in society: the 
bravado of genteel poverty. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [to Mrs. Higgins] How do you 
do? [They shake hands]. 

Act III Pygmalion 161 

Miss Eynsford Hill. How d'you do? [She shakes']. 

Mrs. Higgins [introducing'] My son Henry. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill. Your celebrated son ! I have so 
longed to meet yon, Professor Higgins. 

Higgins [glumly, making no movement in her direc- 
tion] Delighted. [He backs against the piano and bows 

Miss Eynsford Hill [going to him with confident 
familiarity] How do you do? 

Higgins [staring at her] Ive seen you before some- 
where. I havnt the ghost of a notion where; but Ive 
heard your voice. [Drearily] It doesnt matter. Youd 
better sit down. 

Mrs. Higgins. I'm sorry to say that my celebrated 
son has no manners. You mustnt mind him. 

Miss Eynsford Hill [gaily] I dont. [She sits in the 
Elizabethan chair]. 

Miss Eynsford Hill [a little bewildered] Not at all. 
[She sits on the ottoman between her daughter and Mrs. 
Higgins, who has turned her chair away from the writ- 
ing-table] . 

Higgins. Oh, have I been rude ? I didnt mean to be. 

He goes to the central window, through which, with his 
back to the company, he contemplates the river and the 
flowers in Battersea Park on the opposite bank as if they 
were a frozen desert. 

The parlor-maid returns, ushering in Pickering. 

The Parlor-Maid. Colonel Pickering [She with- 

Pickering. How do you do, Mrs. Higgins ? 

Mrs. Higgins. So glad youve come. Do you know 
Mrs. Eynsford Hill — Miss Eynsford Hill? [Exchange 
of bows. The Colonel brings the Chippendale chair a 
little forward between Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Higgins, and 
sits down], 

162 Pygmalion Act III 

Pickering. Has Henry told you what weve come 

Higgins [over his shoulder] We were interrupted: 
damn it! 

Mrs. Higgins. Oh Henry, Henry, really! 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [half rising'] Are we in the way? 

Mrs. Higgins [rising and making her sit down again] 
No, no. You couldnt have come more fortunately: we 
want you to meet a friend of ours. 

Higgins [turning hopefully] Yes, by George! We 
want two or three people. Youll do as well as anybody 

The parlor-maid returns, ushering Freddy. 

The Parlor-Maid. Mr. Eynsford Hill. 

Higgins [almost audibly, past endurance] God of 
Heaven ! another of them. 

Freddy [shaking hands with Mrs. Higgins] Ahdedo? 

Mrs. Higgins. Very good of you to come. [Introduc- 
ing] Colonel Pickering. 

Freddy [bowing] Ahdedo? 

Mrs. Higgins. I dont think you know my son, Pro- 
fessor Higgins. 

Freddy [going to Higgins] Ahdedo? 

Higgins [looking at him much as if he were a pick- 
pocket] I'll take my oath Ive met you before somewhere. 
Where was it? 

Freddy. I dont think so. 

Higgins [resignedly] It dont matter, anyhow. Sit 

He shakes Freddy's hand, and almost slings him on 
the ottoman with his face to the windows; then comes 
round to the other side of it. 

Higgins. Well, here we are, anyhow ! [He sits down on 
the ottoman next Mrs. Eynsford Hill, on her left]. And 
now, what the devil are we going to talk about until 
Eliza comes? 

Act III Pygmalion 163 

Mrs. Higgins. Henry: you are the life and soul of 
the Royal Society's soirees; but really youre rather try- 
ing on more commonplace occasions. 

Higgins. Am I? Very sorry. [Beaming suddenly] I 
suppose I am, you know. [Uproariously] Ha, ha! 

Miss Eynsford Hill [who considers Higgins quite 
eligible matrimonially] I sympathize. I havnt any small 
talk. If people would only be frank and say what they 
really think! 

Higgins [relapsing into gloom] Lord forbid ! 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [taking up her daughter's cue] 
But why? 

Higgins. What they think they ought to think is bad 
enough, Lord knows; but what they really think would 
break up the whole show. Do you suppose it would be 
really agreeable if I were to come out now with what 2" 
really think? 

Miss Eynsford Hill [gaily] Is it so very cynical? 

Higgins. Cynical! Who the dickens said it was cyn- 
ical? I mean it wouldnt be decent. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [seriously] Oh! I'm sure you 
dont mean that, Mr. Higgins. 

Higgins. You see, we're all savages, more or less. 
We're supposed to be civilized and cultured — to know all 
about poetry and philosophy and art and science, and so 
on ; but how many of us know even the meanings of these 
names? [To Miss Hill] What do you know of poetry? 
[To Mrs. Hill] What do you know of science? [Indicat- 
ing Freddy] What does he know of art or science or any- 
thing else? What the devil do you imagine I know of 
philosophy ? 

Mrs. Higgins [warningly] Or of manners, Henry? 

The Parlor-Maid [opening the door] Miss Doolittle. 
[She withdraws]. 

Higgins [rising hastily and running to Mrs. Higgins] 
Here she is, mother. [He stands on tiptoe and makes 

164 Pygmalion Act III 

signs over his mother's head to Eliza to indicate to her 
which lady is her hostess]. 

Eliza, who is exquisitely dressed, produces an impres- 
sion of such remarkable distinction and beauty as she 
enters that they all rise, quite fluttered. Guided by Hig- 
gins's signals, she comes to Mrs. Higgins with studied 

Liza [speaking with pedantic correctness of pronun- 
ciation and great beauty of tone] How do you do, Mrs. 
Higgins ? [She gasps slightly in making sure of the H in 
Higgins, but is quite successful], Mr. Higgins told me I 
might come. 

Mrs. Higgins [cordially] Quite right: I'm very glad 
indeed to see you. 

Pickering. How do you do, Miss Doolittle? 

Liza [shaking hands with him] Colonel Pickering, is 
it not? 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill. I feel sure we have met before, 
Miss Doolittle. I remember your eyes. 

Liza. How do you do ? [She sits down on the ottoman 
gracefully in the place just left vacant by Higgins]. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [introducing] My daughter 

Liza. How do you do? 

Clara [impulsively] How do you do? [She sits down 
on the ottoman beside Eliza, devouring her with her 

Freddy [coming to their side of the ottoman] Ive cer- 
tainly had the pleasure. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [introducing] My son Freddy. 

Liza. How do you do? 

Freddy bows and sits down in the Elizabethan chair, 

Higgins [suddenly] By George, yes : it all comes back 
to me! [They stare at him]. Covent Garden! [Lam- 
entably] What a damned thing! 

Act III Pygmalion 165 

Mrs. Higgins. Henrys please ! [He is about to sit on 
the edge of the table]. Dont sit on my writing-table: 
youll break it. 

Higgins {sulkily'] Sorry. 

He goes to the divan, stumbling into the fender and 
over the fire-irons on his way; extricating himself with 
muttered imprecations; and finishing his disastrous jour- 
ney by throwing himself so impatiently on the divan that 
he almost breaks it. Mrs. Higgins looks at him, but con- 
trols herself and says nothing. 

A long and painful pause ensues. 

Mrs. Higgins [at last, conversationally] Will it rain, 
do you think? 

Liza. The shallow depression in the west of these 
islands is likely to move slowly in an easterly direction. 
There are no indications of any great change in the baro- 
metrical situation. 

Freddy. Ha ! ha ! how awfully funny ! 

Liza. What is wrong with that, young man ? I bet I 
got it right. 

Freddy. Killing ! 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill. I'm sure I hope it wont turn 
cold. Theres so much influenza about. It runs right 
through our whole family regularly every spring. 

Liza [darkly] My aunt died of influenza: so they said 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [clicks her tongue sympathetic- 
ally] in 

Liza [in the same tragic tone] But it's my belief they 
done the old woman in. 

Mrs. Higgins [puzzled] Done her in? 

Liza. Y-e-e-e-es, Lord love you ! Why should she die 
of influenza ? She come through diphtheria right enough 
the year before. I saw her with my own eyes. Fairly 
blue with it, she was. They all thought she was dead; 
but my father he kept ladling gin down her throat til 
she came to so sudden that she bit the bowl off the spoon. 

166 Pygmalion Act III 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [startled] Dear me! 

Liza [piling up the indictment] What call would a 
woman with that strength in her have to die of influenza ? 
What become of her new straw hat that should have 
come to me? Somebody pinched it; and what I say is, 
them as pinched it done her in. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill. What does doing her in mean? 

Higgins [hastily] Oh, thats the new small talk. To 
do a person in means to kill them. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [to Eliza, horrified] You surely 
dont believe that your aunt was killed? 

Liza. Do I not! Them she lived with would have 
killed her for a hat-pin, let alone a hat. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill. But it cant have been right 
for your father to pour spirits down her throat like that. 
It might have killed her. 

Liza. Not her. Gin was mother's milk to her. Be- 
sides, he'd poured so much down his own throat that he 
knew the good of it. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill. Do you mean that he drank? 

Liza. Drank ! My word ! Something chronic. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill. How dreadful for you ! 

Liza. Not a bit. It never did him no harm what I 
could see. But then he did not keep it up regular. 
[Cheerfully] On the burst, as you might say, from time 
to time. And always more agreeable when he had a drop 
in. When he was out of work, my mother used to give 
him fourpence and tell him to go out and not come back 
until he'd drunk himself cheerful and loving-like. 
Theres lots of women has to make their husbands drunk 
to make them fit to live with. [Now quite at her ease] 
You see, it's like this. If a man has a bit of a conscience, 
it always takes him when he's sober; and then it makes 
him low-spirited. A drop of booze just takes that off 
and makes him happy. [To Freddy, who is in convul- 

Act III Pygmalion 167 

sions of suppressed laughter] Here! what are you snig- 
gering at ? 

Freddy. The new small talk. You do it so awfully 

Liza. If I was doing it proper, what was you laugh- 
ing at? [To Higgins] Have I said anything I oughtnt? 

Mrs. Higgins [interposing'] Not at all, Miss Doolittle. 

Liza. Well, thats a mercy, anyhow. [Expansively] 
What I always say is — 

Higgins [rising and looking at his watch] Ahem ! 

Liza [looking round at him; taking the hint; and 
rising] Well: I must go. [They all rise. Freddy goes to 
the door]. So pleased to have met you. Good-bye. [She 
shakes hands with Mrs. Higgins], 

Mrs. Higgins. Good-bye. 

Liza. Good-bye, Colonel Pickering. 

Pickering. Good-bye, Miss Doolittle. [They shake 

Liza [nodding to the others] Good-bye, all. 

Freddy [opening the door for her] Are you walking 
across the Park, Miss Doolittle? If so — 

Liza. Walk! Not bloody likely. [Sensation], I am 
going in a taxi. [She goes out], 

Pickering gasps and sits down, Freddy goes out on the 
balcony to catch another glimpse of Eliza. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [suffering from shock] Well, I 
really cant get used to the new ways. 

Clara [throwing herself discontentedly into the Eliza- 
bethan chair]. Oh, it's all right, mamma, quite right. 
People will think we never go anywhere or see anybody 
if you are so old-fashioned. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill. I daresay I am very old- 
fashioned; but I do hope you wont begin using that ex- 
pression, Clara. I have got accustomed to hear you 
talking about men as rotters, and calling everything filthy 
and beastly; though I do think it horrible and unlady- 

168 Pygmalion Act III 

like. But this last is really too much. Dont you think 
so, Colonel Pickering? 

Pickering. Dont ask me. Ive been away in India 
for several years; and manners have changed so much 
that I sometimes dont know whether I'm at a respectable 
dinner-table or in a ship's forecastle. 

Clara. It's all a matter of habit. Theres no right or 
wrong in it. Nobody means anything by it. And it's so 
quaint, and gives such a smart emphasis to things that 
are not in themselves very witty. I find the new small 
talk delightful and quite innocent. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [rising'] Well, after that, I think 
it's time for us to go. 

Pickering and Higgins rise. 

Clara [rising] Oh yes: we have three at-homes to go 
to still. Good-bye, Mrs. Higgins. Good-bye, Colonel 
Pickering. Good-bye, Professor Higgins. 

Higgins [coming grimly at her from the divan, and 
accompanying her to the door] Good-bye. Be sure you 
try on that small talk at the three at-homes. Dont be 
nervous about it. Pitch it in strong. 

Clara [all smiles] I will. Good-bye. Such nonsense, 
all this early Victorian prudery ! 

Higgins [tempting her] Such damned nonsense! 

Clara. Such bloody nonsense! 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [convulsively] Clara ! 

Clara. Ha! ha! [She goes out radiant, conscious of 
being thoroughly up to date, and is heard descending the 
stairs in a stream of silvery laughter], 

Freddy [to the heavens at large] Well, I ask you — 
[He gives it up, and comes to Mrs. Higgins]. Good-bye. 

Mrs. Higgins [shaking hands] Good-bye. Would you 
like to meet Miss Doolittle again? 

Freddy [eagerly] Yes, I should, most awfully. 

Mrs. Higgins. Well, you know my days. 

Act III Pygmalion 169 

Freddy. Yes. Thanks awfully. Good-bye. [He goes 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill. Good-bye, Mr. Higgins. 

Higgins. Good-bye. Good-bye. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [to Pickering] It's no use. I 
shall never be able to bring myself to use that word. 

Pickering. Dont. It's not compulsory, you know. 
Youll get on quite well without it. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill. Only, Clara is so down on me 
if I am not positively reeking with the latest slang. 

Pickering. Good-bye [They shake hands]. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill [to Mrs. Higgins] You mustnt 
mind Clara. [Pickering, catching from her lowered tone 
that this is not meant for him to hear, discreetly joins 
Higgins at the window]. We're so poor! and she gets so 
few parties, poor child! She doesnt quite know. [Mrs. 
Higgins, seeing that her eyes are moist, takes her hand 
sympathetically and goes with her to the door] . But the 
boy is nice. Dont you think so? 

Mrs. Higgins. Oh, quite nice. I shall always be de- 
lighted to see him. 

Mrs. Eynsford Hill. Thank you, dear. Good-bye. 
[She goes out] . 

Higgins [eagerly] Well? Is Eliza presentable [he 
swoops on his mother and drags her to the ottoman, 
where she sits down in Eliza's place with her son on her 
left] ? 

Pickering returns to his chair on her right. 

Mrs. Higgins. You silly boy, of course shes not pre- 
sentable. Shes a triumph of your art and of her dress- 
maker's ; but if you suppose for a moment that she doesnt 
give herself away in every sentence she utters, you must 
be perfectly cracked about her. 

Pickering. But dont you think something might be 

170 Pygmalion Act III 

done? I mean something to eliminate the sanguinary 
element from her conversation. 

Mrs. Higgins. Not as long as she is in Henry's hands. 

Higgins [aggrieved'] Do you mean that my language 
is improper? 

Mrs. Higgins. No, dearest: it would be quite proper 
—say on a canal barge; but it would not be proper for 
her at a garden party. 

Higgins [deeply injured] Well I must say — 

Pickering [interrupting him] Come, Higgins: you 
must learn to know yourself. I havnt heard such lan- 
guage as yours since we used to review the volunteers in 
Hyde Park twenty years ago. 

Higgins [sulkily] Oh, well, if you say so, I suppose I 
dont always talk like a bishop. 

Mrs. Higgins [quieting Henry with a touch] Colonel 
Pickering: will you tell me what is the exact state of 
things in Wimpole Street? 

Pickering [cheerfully : as if this completely changed 
the subject] Well, I have come to live there with Henry. 
We work together at my Indian Dialects ; and we think it 
more convenient — 

Mrs. Higgins. Quite so. I know all about that : it's an 
excellent arrangement. But where does this girl live? 

Higgins. With us, of course. Where would she live? 

Mrs. Higgins. But on what terms? Is she a servant? 
If not, what is she? 

Pickering [slowly] I think I know what you mean, 
Mrs. Higgins. 

Higgins. Well, dash me if I do ! Ive had to work at 
the girl every day for months to get her to her present 
pitch. Besides, shes useful. She knows where my things 
are, and remembers my appointments and so forth. 

Mrs. Higgins. How does your housekeeper get on with 

Higgins. Mrs. Pearce? Oh, shes jolly glad to get so 

Act III Pygmalion 171 

much taken off her hands; for before Eliza came, she 
used to have to find things and remind me of my ap- 
pointments. But shes got some silly bee in her bonnet 
about Eliza. She keeps saying "You dont think, sir": 
doesnt she, Pick? 

Pickering. Yes : thats the formula. "You dont think, 
sir." Thats the end of every conversation about Eliza. 

Higgins. As if I ever stop thinking about the girl and 
her confounded vowels and consonants. I'm worn out, 
thinking about her, and watching her lips and her teeth 
and her tongue, not to mention her soul, which is the 
quaintest of the lot. 

Mrs. Higgins. You certainly are a pretty pair of 
babies, playing with your live doll. 

Higgins. Playing! The hardest job I ever tackled: 
make no mistake about that, mother. But you have no 
idea how frightfully interesting it is to take a human 
being and change her into a quite different human being 
by creating a new speech for her. It's filling up the deep- 
est gulf that separates class from class and soul from 

Pickering [drawing his chair closer to Mrs. Higgins 
and bending over to her eagerly'] Yes: it's enormously in- 
teresting. I assure you, Mrs. Higgins, we take Eliza 
very seriously. Every week — every day almost — there is 
some new change. [Closer again] We keep records of 
every stage — dozens of gramophone disks and photo- 
graphs — 

Higgins [assailing her at the other ear] Yes, by 
George: it's the most absorbing experiment I ever 
tackled. She regularly fills our lives up; doesnt she, 

Pickering. We're always talking Eliza. 

Higgins. Teaching Eliza. 

Pickering. Dressing Eliza. 

Mrs. Higgins. What! 



Act III 

HiggiNs. Inventing new Elizas. 














You know, she has the most 
extraordinary quickness of 

I assure you, my dear Mrs. 
Higgins, that girl 

just like a parrot. Ive tried 
her with every 

is a genius. She can play 
the piano quite beautifully. 

possible sort of sound that a 
human being can make — 

We have taken her to classi- 
cal concerts and to music 

Continental dialects, Afri- 
can dialects, Hottentot 

halls; and it's all the same 
to her: she plays every- 

clicks, things it took me 
years to get hold of; and 

she hears right off when she 
comes home, whether it's 

she picks them up like a 
shot, right away, as if she 

Beethoven and Brahms or 
Lehar and Lionel Monck- 

been at it all her life. 

though six months ago, she'd 
never as much as touched 

[ a piano — 

Mrs. Higgins [putting her fingers in her ears, as they 
are by this time shouting one another down with an 
intolerable noise] Sh-sh-sh — sh! [They stop]. 

Act III Pygmalion 173 

Pickering. I beg your pardon. [He draws his chair 
back apologetically']. 

Higgins. Sorry. When Pickering starts shouting no- 
body can get a word in edgeways. 

Mrs. Higgins. Be quiet, Henry. Colonel Pickering: 
dont you realize that when Eliza walked into Wimpole 
Street, something walked in with her ? 

Pickering. Her father did. But Henry soon got rid 
of him. 

Mrs. Higgins. It would have been more to the point 
if her mother had. But as her mother didnt something 
else did. 

Pickering. But what? 

Mrs. Higgins [unconsciously dating herself by the 
word] A problem. 

Pickering. Oh, I see. The problem of how to pass 
her off as a lady. 

Higgins. I'll solve that problem. Ive half solved it 

Mrs. Higgins. No, you two infinitely stupid male 
creatures: the problem of what is to be done with her 

Higgins. I dont see anything in that. She can go 
her own way, with all the advantages I have given her. 

Mrs. Higgins. The advantages of that poor woman 
who was here just now! The manners and habits that 
disqualify a fine lady from earning her own living with- 
out giving her a fine lady's income! Is that what you 

Pickering [indulgently, being rather bored] Oh, that 
will be all right, Mrs. Higgins. [He rises to go]. 

Higgins [rising also] We'll find her some light em- 

Pickering. Shes happy enough. Dont you worry 
about her. Good-bye. [He shakes hands as if he were 
consoling a frightened child, and makes for the door]. 

174 Pygmalion Act III 

Higgins. Anyhow, theres no good bothering now. 
The things done. Good-bye, mother. [He kisses her, 
and follows Pickering], 

Pickering [turning for a final consolation] There are 
plenty of openings. We'll do whats right. Good-bye. 

Higgins [to Pickering as they go out together] Let's 
take her to the Shakespear exhibition at Earls Court. 

Pickering. Yes : lets. Her remarks will be delicious. 

Higgins. She'll mimic all the people for us when we 
get home. 

Pickering. Ripping. [Both are heard laughing as 
they go downstairs]. 

Mrs. Higgins [rises with an impatient bounce, and 
returns to her work at the writing-table. S.he sweeps 
a litter of disarranged papers out of her way; snatches 
a sheet of paper from her stationery case; and tries reso- 
lutely to write. At the third line she gives it up; flings 
down her pen; grips the table angrily and exclaims] 
Oh, men! men!! men!!! 


The Wimpole Street laboratory. Midnight. Nobody 
in the room. The clock on the mantelpiece strikes 
twelve. The fire is not alight: it is a summer night. 

Presently Higgins and Pickering are heard on the 

Higgins [calling down to Pickering] I say, Pick: lock 
up, will you. I shant be going out again. 

Pickering. Right. Can Mrs. Pearce go to bed? 
We dont want anything more, do we? 

Higgins. Lord, no ! 

Eliza opens the door and is seen on the lighted land- 
ing in opera cloak, brilliant evening dress, and diamonds, 
with fan, flowers, and all accessories. She comes to the 
hearth, and switches on the electric lights there. She is 
tired: her pallor contrasts strongly with her dark eyes 
and hair; and her expression is almost tragic. She takes 
off her cloak; puts her fan and flowers on the piano; and 
sits down on the bench, brooding and silent. Higgins, 
in evening dress, with overcoat and hat, comes in, carrying 
a smoking jacket which he has picked up downstairs. 
He takes off the hat and overcoat; throws them care- 
lessly on the newspaper stand; disposes of his coat in 
the same way; puts on the smoking jacket; and throws 
himself wearily into the easy-chair at the hearth. Picker- 
ing, similarly attired, comes in. He also takes off his 
hat and overcoat, and is about to throw them on Higgins' 's 
when he hesitates. 

Pickering. I say: Mrs. Pearce will row if we leave 
these things lying about in the drawing-room. 


176 Pygmalion Act IV 

Higgins. Oh, chuck them over the bannisters into the 
hall. She'll find them there in the morning and put them 
away all right. She'll think we were drunk. 

Pickering. We are, slightly. Are there any letters? 

Higgins. I didnt look. [Pickering takes the overcoats 
and hats and goes down stairs, Higgins begins half sing- 
ing half yawning an air from La Fanciulla del Golden 
West. Suddenly he stops and exclaims] I wonder where 
the devil my slippers are! 

Eliza looks at him darkly; then rises suddenly and 
leaves the room. 

Higgins yawns again, and resumes his song. 

Pickering returns, with the contents of the letter-box 
in his hand. 

Pickering. Only circulars, and this coroneted billet- 
doux for you. [He throws the circulars into the fender, 
and posts himself on the hearthrug, with his back to the 

Higgins [glancing at the billet-doux] Money-lender. 
[He throws the letter after the circulars]. 

Eliza returns with a pair of large down-at-heel slippers. 
She places them on the carpet before Higgins, and sits 
as before without a word. 

Higgins [yawning again] Oh Lord! What an eve- 
ning ! What a crew ! What a silly tomfoollery ! [He raises 
his shoe to unlace it, and catches sight of the slippers. 
He stops unlacing and looks at them as if they had ap- 
peared there of their own accord]. Oh! theyre there, are 

Pickering [stretching himself] Well, I feel a bit 
tired. It's been a long day. The garden party, a dinner 
party, and the opera ! Rather too much of a good thing. 
But youve won your bet, Higgins. Eliza did the trick, 
and something to spare, eh? 

Higgins [fervently] Thank God it's over! 

Act IV Pygmalion 177 

Eliza flinches violently; but they take no notice of 
her; and she recovers herself and sits stonily as before. 

Pickering. Were you nervous at the garden party? I 
was. Eliza didnt seem a bit nervous. 

Higgins. Oh, she wasnt nervous. I knew she'd be all 
right. Xo: it's the strain of putting the job through all 
these months that has told on me. It was interesting 
enough at first, while we were at the phonetics ; but after 
that I got deadly sick of it. If I hadnt backed myself to 
do it I should have chucked the whole thing up two 
months ago. It was a silly notion: the whole thing has 
been a bore. 

Pickering. Oh come ! the garden party was frightfully 
exciting. My heart began beating like anything. 

Higgixs. Yes, for the first three minutes. But when I 
saw we were going to win hands down, I felt like a bear 
in a cage, hanging about doing nothing. The dinner was 
worse: sitting gorging there for over an hour, with no- 
body but a damned fool of a fashionable woman to talk 
to ! I tell you, Pickering, never again for me. No more 
artificial duchesses. The whole thing has been simple 

Pickering. Youve never been broken in properly to the 
social routine. [Strolling over to the piano] I rather en- 
joy dipping into it occasionally myself: it makes me feel 
young again. Anyhow, it was a great success : an immense 
success. I was quite frightened once or twice because 
Eliza was doing it so well. You see, lots of the real 
people cant do it at all : theyre such fools that they think 
style comes by nature to people in their position ; and so 
they never learn. Theres always something professional 
about doing a thing superlatively well. 

Higgins. Yes: thats what drives me mad: the silly 
people dont know their own silly business. [Rising] 
However, it's over and done with; and now I can go to 
bed at last without dreading tomorrow. 

178 Pygmalion Act IV 

Eliza's beauty becomes murderous. 

Pickering. I think I shall turn in too. Still, it's been 
a great occasion: a triumph for you. Good-night. [He 

Higgins [following him] Good-night. [Over his shoul- 
der, at the door] Put out the lights, Eliza ; and tell Mrs. 
Pearce not to make coffee for me in the morning: I'll 
take tea. [He goes out], 

Eliza tries to control herself and feel indifferent as she 
rises and walks across to the hearth to switch off the 
lights. By the time she gets there she is on the point of 
screaming. She sits down in Higgins's chair and holds 
on hard to the arms. Finally she gives way and flings 
herself furiously on the floor raging. 

Higgins [in despairing wrath outside] What the devil 
have I done with my slippers? [He appears at the door], 

Liza [snatching up the slippers, and hurling them at 
him one after the other with all her force] There are your 
slippers. And there. Take your slippers; and may you 
never have a day's luck with them! 

Higgins [astounded] What on earth — ! [He comes to 
her] . Whats the matter ? Get up. [He pulls her up] . 
Anything wrong? 

Liza [breathless] Nothing wrong — with you. Ive 
won your bet for you, havnt I? Thats enough for you. 
I dont matter, I suppose. 

Higgins. You won my bet ! You ! Presumptuous 
insect! / won it. What did you throw those slippers at 
me for? 

Liza. Because I wanted to smash your face. I'd like 
to kill you, you selfish brute. Why didnt you leave me 
where you picked me out of — in the gutter? You thank 
God it's all over, and that now you can throw me back 
again there, do you? [She crisps her fingers frantically]. 

Higgins [looking at her in cool wonder] The creature 
i s nervous, after all. 

Act IV Pygmalion 179 

Liza [gives a suffocated scream of fury, and instinct- 
ively darts her nails at his face] !! 

Higgins [catching her wrists] Ah! would you? Claws 
in, you cat. How dare you shew your temper to me? Sit 
down and be quiet. [He throws her roughly into the 
easy-chair] . 

Liza [crushed by superior strength and weight] Whats 
to become of me? Whats to become of me? 

Higgins. How the devil do I know whats to become of 
you? What does it matter what becomes of you? 

Liza. You dont care. I know you dont care. You 
wouldnt care if I was dead. I'm nothing to you — not so 
much as them slippers. 

Higgins [thundering] T h o s e slippers. 

Liza [with bitter submission] Those slippers. I didnt 
think it made any difference now. 

A pause. Eliza hopeless and crushed. Higgins a little 

Higgins [in his loftiest manner] Why have you begun 
going on like this? May I ask whether you complain of 
your treatment here? 

Liza. No. 

Higgins. Has anybody behaved badly to you? Colonel 
Pickering? Mrs. Pearce? Any of the servants? 

Liza. No. 

Higgins. I presume you dont pretend that I have 
treated you badly. 

Liza. No. 

Higgins. I am glad to hear it. [He moderates his tone]. 
Perhaps youre tired after the strain of the day. Will you 
have a glass of champagne? [He moves towards the 
door] . 

Liza. No. [Recollecting her manners] Thank you. 

Higgins [good-humored again] This has been coming 
on you for some days. I suppose it was natural for you 
to be anxious about the garden party. But thats all over 

180 Pygmalion Act IV 

now. [He pats her kindly on the shoulder. She writhes], 
Theres nothing more to worry about. 

Liza. No. Nothing more for y o u to worry about. [She 
suddenly rises and gets away from him by going to the 
piano bench, where she sits and hides her face] . Oh God ! 
I wish I was dead. 

Higgins [staring after her in sincere surprise] Why? 
in heaven's name, why? [Reasonably, going to her] 
Listen to me, Eliza. All this irritation is purely sub- 
j ective. 

Liza. I dont understand. I'm too ignorant. 

Higgins. It's only imagination. Low spirits and noth- 
ing else. Nobody's hurting you. Nothing's wrong. You 
go to bed like a good girl and sleep it off. Have a little 
cry and say your prayers : that will make you comfortable. 

Liza. I heard your prayers. "Thank God it's all 
over !" 

Higgins [impatiently] Well, dont you thank God it's 
all over? Now you are free and can do what you like. 

Liza [pulling herself together in desperation] What 
am I fit for ? What have you left me fit for ? Where am I 
to go? What am I to do? Whats to become of me? 

Higgins [enlightened, but not at all impressed] Oh, 
thats whats worrying you, is it? [He thrusts his hands 
into his pockets, and walks about in his usual manner, 
rattling the contents of his pockets, as if condescending 
to a trivial subject out of pure kindness]. I shouldnt 
bother about it if I were you. I should imagine you wont 
have much difficulty in settling yourself somewhere or 
other, though I hadnt quite realized that you were going 
away. [She looks quickly at him : he does not look at her, 
but examines the dessert stand on the piano and decides 
that he will eat an apple]. You might marry, you know. 
[He bites a large piece out of the apple, and munches it 
noisily]. You see, Eliza, all men are not confirmed old 

Act IV Pygmalion 181 

bachelors like me and the Colonel. Most men are the 
marrying sort (poor devils !) ; and youre not bad-looking; 
it's quite a pleasure to look at you sometimes — not now, 
of course, because youre crying and looking as ugly as 
the very devil; but when youre all right and quite your- 
self, youre what I should call attractive. That is, to the 
people in the marrying line, you understand. You go to 
bed and have a good nice rest; and then get up and look 
at yourself in the glass ; and you wont feel so cheap. 

Eliza again looks at him, speechless, and does not 

The look is quite lost on him: he eats his apple with a 
dreamy expression of happiness, as it is quite a good 

Higgins [a genial afterthought occurring to him] I 
daresay my mother could find some chap or other who 
would do very well. 

Liza. We were above that at the corner of Tottenham 
Court Road. 

Higgins [waking up] What do you mean? 

Liza. I sold flowers. I didnt sell myself. Now youve 
made a lady of me I'm not fit to sell anything else. I 
wish youd left me where you found me. 

Higgins [slinging the core of the apple decisively into 
the grate] Tosh, Eliza. Dont you insult human relations 
by dragging all this cant about buying and selling into 
it. You neednt marry the fellow if you dont like him. 

Liza. What else am I to do? 

Higgins. Oh, lots of things. What about your old idea 
of a florist's shop? Pickering could set you up in one: 
hes lots of money. [Chuckling] He'll have to pay for 
all those togs you have been wearing today; and that, 
with the hire of the j ewellery, will make a big hole in two 
hundred pounds. Why, six months ago you would have 
thought it the millennium to have a flower shop of your 

182 Pygmalion Act IV 

own. Come! youll be all right. I must clear off to bed: 
I'm devilish sleepy. By the way, I came down for some- 
thing: I forget what it was. 

Liza. Your slippers. 

Higgins. Oh yes, of course. You shied them at me. 
[He picks them up, and is going out when she rises and 
speaks to him], 

Liza. Before you go, sir — 

Higgins [dropping the slippers in his surprise at her 
calling him Sir] Eh? 

Liza. Do my clothes belong to me or to Colonel Pick- 

Higgins [coming back into the room as if her question 
were the very climax of unreason] What the devil use 
would they be to Pickering? 

Liza. He might want them for the next girl you pick 
up to experiment on. 

Higgins [shocked and hurt] Is t h a t the way you feel 
towards us? 

Liza. I dont want to hear anything more about that. 
All I want to know is whether anything belongs to me. 
My own clothes were burnt. 

Higgins. But what does it matter? Why need you 
start bothering about that in the middle of the night? 

Liza. I want to know what I may take away with me. 
I dont want to be accused of stealing. 

Higgins [now deeply wounded] Stealing! You 
shouldnt have said that, Eliza. That shews a want of feel- 

Liza. I'm sorry. I'm only a common ignorant girl; and 
in my station I have to be careful. There cant be any 
feelings between the like of you and the like of me. 
Please will you tell me what belongs to me and what 
doesn't ? 

Higgins [very sulky] You may take the whole damned 

Act IV Pygmalion 183 

houseful if you like. Except the jewels. Theyre hired. 
Will that satisfy you? [He turns on his heel and is 
about to go in extreme dudgeon], 

Liza [drinking in his emotion like nectar, and nagging 
him to provoke a further supply] Stop, please. [She 
takes off her jewels]. Will you take these to your room 
and keep them safe? I dont want to run the risk of 
their being missing. 

Higgins [furious] Hand them over. [She puts them 
into his hands]. If these belonged to me instead of to 
the jeweler, I'd ram them down your ungrateful throat. 
[He perfunctorily thrusts them into his pockets, uncon- 
sciously decorating himself with the protruding ends of 
the chains]. 

Liza [taking a ring off] This ring isnt the jeweler's: 
it's the one you bought me in Brighton. I dont want it 
now. [Higgins dashes the ring violently into the fireplace, 
and turns on her so threateningly that she crouches over 
the piano with her hands over her face, and exclaims] 
Dont you hit me. 

Higgins. Hit you! You infamous creature, how dare 
you accuse me of such a thing? It is you who have hit 
me. You have wounded me to the heart. 

Liza [thrilling with hidden joy] I'm glad. Ive got a 
little of my own back, anyhow. 

Higgins [with dignity, in his finest professional style] 
You have caused me to lose my temper: a thing that has 
hardly ever happend to me before. I prefer to say noth- 
ing more tonight. I am going to bed. 

Liza [pertly] Youd better leave a note for Mrs. 
Pearce about the coffee; for she wont be told by me. 

Higgins [formally] Damn Mrs. Pearce; and damn the 
coffee ; and damn you ; and damn my own folly in having 
lavished hard-earned knowledge and the treasure of my 
regard and intimacy on a heartless guttersnipe. [He 

184 Pygmalion Act IV 

goes out with impressive decorum, and spoils it by slam- 
ming the door savagely], 

Eliza smiles for the first time; expresses her feelings 
by a wild pantomime in which an imitation of Higgins's 
exit is confused with her own triumph; and finally goes 
down on her knees on the hearthrug to look for the ring. 


Mrs. Higgins's drawing-room. She is at her writing- 
table as before. The parlor-maid comes in. 

The Parlor-Maid [at the door] Mr. Henry, mam, 
is downstairs with Colonel Pickering. 

Mrs. Higgins. Well, shew them up. 

The Parlor-Maid. Theyre using the telephone, mam. 
Telephoning to the police, I think. 

Mrs. Higgins. What! 

The Parlor-Maid [coming further in and lowering 
her voice] Mr. Henry's in a state, mam. I thought I'd 
better tell you. 

Mrs. Higgins. If you had told me that Mr. Henry 
was not in a state it would have been more surprising. 
Tell them to come up when theyve finished with the 
police. I suppose hes lost something. 

The Parlor-Maid. Yes, mam [going], 

Mrs. Higgins. Go upstairs and tell Miss Doolittle 
that Mr. Henry and the Colonel are here. Ask her not 
to come down till I send for her. 

The Parlor-Maid. Yes, mam. 

Higgins bursts in. He is, as the parlor-maid has said, 
in a state. 

Higgins. Look here, mother: heres a confounded thing! 

Mrs. Higgins. Yes, dear. Good-morning. [He checks 
his impatience and hisses her, whilst the parlor-maid goes 
out]. What is it? 

Higgins. Eliza's bolted. 


186 Pygmalion Act V 

Mrs. Higgins [calmly continuing her writing] You 
must have frightened her. 

Higgins. Frightened her! nonsense! She was left last 
night, as usual, to turn out the lights and all that; and 
instead of going to bed she changed her clothes and went 
right off: her bed wasnt slept in. She came in a cab for 
her things before seven this morning; and that fool Mrs. 
Pearce let her have them without telling me a word 
about it. What am I to do? 

Mrs. Higgins. Do without, I'm afraid, Henry. The girl 
has a perfect right to leave if she chooses. 

Higgins [wandering distractedly across the room] But 
I cant find anything. I dont know what appointments Ive 
got. I'm — [Pickering comes in. Mrs. Higgins puts 
down her pen and turns away from the writing-table], 

Pickering [shaking hands] Good-morning, Mrs. Hig- 
gins. Has Henry told you? [He sits down on the otto- 

Higgins. What does that ass of an inspector say? 
Have you offered a reward? 

Mrs. Higgins [rising in indignant amazement] You 
dont mean to say you have set the police after Eliza ? 

Higgins. Of course. What are the police for? What 
else could we do? [He sits in the Elizabethan chair], 

Pickering. The inspector made a lot of difficulties. 
I really think he suspected us of some improper purpose. 

Mrs. Higgins. Well, of course he did. What right have 
you to go to the police and give the girl's name as if 
she were a thief, or a lost umbrella, or something ? Really ! 
[She sits down again, deeply vexed], 

Higgins. But we want to find her. 

Pickering. We cant let her go like this, you know, 
Mrs. Higgins. What were we to do? 

Mrs. Higgins. You have no more sense, either of you, 
than two children. Why — 

Act V Pygmalion 187 

The parlor-maid comes in and breaks off the conversa- 

The Parlor-Maid. Mr. Henry: a gentleman wants to 
see you very particular. Hes been sent on from Wim- 
pole Street. 

Higgins. Oh, bother! I cant see anyone now. Who is 

The Parlor-Maid. A Mr. Doolittle, sir. 

Pickering. Doolittle! Do you mean the dustman? 

The Parlor-Maid. Dustman! Oh no, sir: a gentle- 

Higgins [springing up excitedly] By George, Pick, 
it's some relative of hers that shes gone to. Somebody 
we know nothing about. [To the parlor-maid] Send him 
up, quick. 

The Parlor-Maid. Yes, sir. [She goes], 

Htggins [eagerly, going to his mother] Genteel rela- 
tives ! now we shall hear something. [He sits down in the 
Chippendale chair] . 

Mrs. Higgins. Do you know any of her people? 

Pickering. Only her father: the fellow we told you 

The Parlor-Maid [announcing] Mr. Doolittle. [She 
withdraws] . 

Doolittle enters. He is brilliantly dressed in a new 
fashionable frock-coat, with white waistcoat and grey 
trousers. A flower in his buttonhole, a dazzling silk hat, 
and patent leather shoes complete the effect. He is too 
concerned with the business he has come on to notice Mrs. 
Higgins. He walks straight to Higgins, and accosts him 
with vehement reproach. 

Doolittle [indicating his own person] See here! Do 
you see this? You done this. 

Higgins. Done what, man? 

Doolittle. This, I tell you. Look at it. Look at this 
hat. Look at this coat. 

188 Pygmalion Act V 

Pickering. Has Eliza been buying you clothes? 

Doolittle. Eliza ! not she. Not half. Why would she 
buy me clothes? 

Mrs. Higgins. Good-morning, Mr. Doolittle. Wont you 
sit down? 

Doolittle [taken aback as he becomes conscious that 
he has forgotten his hostess] Asking your pardon, maam. 
[He approaches her and shakes her proffered hand]. 
Thank you. [He sits down on the ottoman, on Picker- 
ing's right]. I am that full of what has happened to me 
that I cant think of anything else. 

Higgins. What the dickens has happened to you ? 

Doolittle. I shouldnt mind if it had only happened 
to me: anything might happen to anybody and nobody 
to blame but Providence, as you might say. But this is 
something that you done to me: yes, you, Henry Hig- 

Higgins. Have you found Eliza ? Thats the point. 

Doolittle. Have you lost her? 

Higgins. Yes. 

Doolittle. You have all the luck, you have. I aint 
found her; but she'll find me quick enough now after 
what you done to me. 

Mrs. Higgins. But what has my son done to you, Mr. 

Doolittle. Done to me ! Ruined me. Destroyed my 
happiness. Tied me up and delivered me into the hands 
of middle class morality. 

Higgins [rising intolerantly and standing over Doo- 
little] Youre raving. Youre drunk. Youre mad. I gave you 
five pounds. After that I had two conversations with you, 
at half-a-crown an hour. Ive never seen you since. 

Doolittle. Oh! Drunk! am I? Mad! am I? Tell me 
this. Did you or did you not write a letter to an old 
blighter in America that was giving five millions to found 

Act V Pygmalion 189 

Moral Reform Societies all over the world, and that 
wanted you to invent a universal language for him ? 

Higgins. What! Ezra D. Wannafeller! Hes dead. 
[He sits down again carelessly], 

Doolittle. Yes: hes dead; and I'm done for. Now 
did you or did you not write a letter to him to say that 
the most original moralist at present in England, to 
the best of your knowledge, was Alfred Doolittle, a 
common dustman. 

Higgins. Oh, after your last visit I remember making 
some silly joke of the kind. 

Doolittle. Ah! you may well call it a silly joke. It 
put the lid on me right enough. Just give him the chance 
he wanted to shew that Americans is not like us: that 
they recognize and respect merit in every class of life, 
however humble. Them words is in his blooming will, 
in which, Henry Higgins, thanks to your silly joking, he. 
leaves me a share in his Pre-digested Cheese Trust worth 
three thousand a year on condition that I lecture for his 
Wannafeller Moral Reform World League as often as 
they ask me up to six times a year. 

Higgins. The devil he does ! Whew ! [Brightening 
suddenly] What a lark! 

Pickering. A safe thing for you, Doolittle. They 
wont ask you twice. 

Doolittle. It aint the lecturing I mind. I'll lecture 
them blue in the face, I will, and not turn a hair. It's 
making a gentleman of me that I object to. Who asked 
him to make a gentleman of me? I was happy. I was 
free. I touched pretty nigh everybody for money when I 
wanted it, same as I touched you, Henry Higgins. Now 
I am worrited; tied neck and heels; and everybody 
touches me for money. It's a fine thing for you, says my 
solicitor. Is it ? says I. You mean it's a good thing for you, 
I says. When I was a poor man and had a solicitor 
once when they found a pram in the dust cart, he got 

190 Pygmalion Act V 

me off, and got shut of me and got me shut of him as 
quick as he could. Same with the doctors: used to shove 
me out of the hospital before I could hardly stand on my 
legs, and nothing to pay. Now they finds out that I'm 
not a healthy man and cant live unless they looks after 
me twice a day. In the house I'm not let do a hand's 
turn for myself: somebody else must do it and touch me 
for it. A year ago I hadnt a relative in the world except 
two or three that wouldnt speak to me. Now Ive fifty, 
and not a decent week's wages among the lot of them. 
I have to live for others and not for myself: thats mid- 
dle class morality. You talk of losing Eliza. Dont you be 
anxious : I bet shes on my doorstep by this : she that could 
support herself easy by selling flowers if I wasnt re- 
spectable. And the next one to touch me will be you, 
Henry Higgins. I'll have to learn to speak middle class 
language from you, instead of speaking proper English. 
Thats where youll come in ; and I daresay thats what you 
done it for. 

Mrs. Higgins. But, my dear Mr. Doolittle, you need 
not suffer all this if you are really in earnest. Nobody 
can force you to accept this bequest. You can repudiate 
it. Isnt that so, Colonel Pickering? 

Pickering. I believe so. 

Doolittle [softening his manner in deference to her 
sex] Thats the tragedy of it, maam. It's easy to say 
chuck it ; but I havent the nerve. Which of us has ? We're 
all intimidated. Intimidated, maam: thats what we are. 
What is there for me if I chuck it but the workhouse in 
my old age? I have to dye my hair already to keep my 
job as a dustman. If I was one of the deserving poor, and 
had put by a bit, I could chuck it; but then why should 
I, acause the deserving poor might as well be millionaires 
for all the happiness they ever has. They dont know 
what happiness is. But I, as one of the undeserving poor, 
have nothing between me and the pauper's uniform but 

Act V Pygmalion 191 

this here blasted three thousand a year that shoves me 
into the middle class. (Excuse the expression, maam: 
youd use it yourself if you had my provocation) . Theyve 
got you every way you turn: it's a choice between the 
Skilly of the workhouse and the Char Bydis of the mid- 
dle class; and I havnt the nerve for the workhouse. In- 
timidated : thats what I am. Broke. Bought up. Happier 
men than me will call for my dust, and touch me for 
their tip; and I'll look on helpless, and envy them. And 
thats what your son has brought me to. [He is overcome 
by emotion). 

Mrs. Higgins. Well, I'm very glad youre not going to 
do anything foolish, Mr. Doolittle. For this solves the 
problem of Eliza's future. You can provide for her now. 

Doolittle [with melancholy resignation] Yes, maam: 
I'm expected to provide for everyone now, out of three 
thousand a year. 

Higgins [jumping up] Nonsense! he cant provide for 
her. He shant provide for her. She doesnt belong to him. 
I paid him five pounds for her. Doolittle: either youre 
an honest man or a rogue. 

Doolittle [tolerantly] A little of both, Henry, like 
the rest of us : a little of both. 

Higgins. Well, you took that money for the girl; and 
you have no right to take her as well. 

Mrs. Higgins. Henry: dont be absurd. If you really 
want to know where Eliza is, she is upstairs. 

Higgins [amazed] Upstairs!!! Then I shall jolly 
soon fetch her downstairs. [He makes resolutely for the 
door] . 

Mrs. Higgins [rising and following him] Be quiet, 
Henry. Sit down. 

Higgins. I — 

Mrs. Higgins. Sit down, dear ; and listen to me. 

Higgins. Oh very well, very well, very well. [He 
throws himself ungraciously on the ottoman, with his face 

192 Pygmalion Act V 

towards the windows]. But I think you might have told 
me this half an hour ago. 

Mrs. Higgins. Eliza came to me this morning. She 
passed the night partly walking about in a rage, partly 
trying to throw herself into the river and being afraid 
to, and partly in the Carlton Hotel. She told me of the 
brutal way you two treated her. 

Higgins [bounding up again] What! 

Pickering [rising also] My dear Mrs. Higgins, shes 
been telling you stories. We didnt treat her brutally. We 
hardly said a word to her ; and we parted on particularly 
good terms. [Turning on Higgins]. Higgins did you 
bully her after I went to bed? 

Higgins. Just the other way about. She threw my slip- 
pers in my face. She behaved in the most outrageous 
way. I never gave her the slightest provocation. The 
slippers came bang into my face the moment I entered 
the room — before I had uttered a word. And used per- 
fectly awful language. 

Pickering [astonished] But why? What did we do 
to her? 

Mrs. Higgins. I think I know pretty well what you 
did. The girl is naturally rather affectionate, I think. 
Isnt she, Mr. Doolittle? 

Doolittle. Very tender-hearted, maam. Takes after 

Mrs. Higgins. Just so. She had become attached to 
you both. She worked very hard for you, Henry! I dont 
think you quite realize what anything in the nature of 
brain work means to a girl like that. Well, it seems that 
when the great day of trial came, and she did this won- 
derful thing for you without making a single mistake, 
you two sat there and never said a word to her, but 
talked together of how glad you were that it was all 
over and how you had been bored with the whole thing. 
And then you were surprised because she threw your 

Act V Pygmalion 193 

slippers at you! I should have thrown the fire-irons at 

Higgins. We said nothing except that we were tired 
and wanted to go to bed. Did we, Pick? 

Pickering [shrugging his shoulders] That was all. 

Mrs. Higgins [ironically] Quite sure? 

Pickering. Absolutely. Really, that was all. 

Mrs. Higgins. You didn't thank her, or pet her, or 
admire her, or tell her how splendid she'd been. 

Higgins [impatiently] But she knew all about that. 
We didnt make speeches to her, if thats what you mean. 

Pickering [conscience stricken] Perhaps we were a 
little inconsiderate. Is she very angry? 

Mrs. Higgins [returning to her place at the writing- 
table] Well, I'm afraid she wont go back to Wimpole 
Street, especially now that Mr. Doolittle is able to keep 
up the position you have thrust on her; but she says 
she is quite willing to meet you on friendly terms and 
to let bygones be bygones. 

Higgins [furious] Is she, by George? Ho! 

Mrs. Higgins. If you promise to behave yourself, Hen- 
ry, I'll ask her to come down. If not, go home; for you 
have taken up quite enough of my time. 

Higgins. Oh, all right. Very well. Pick: you behave 
yourself. Let us put on our best Sunday manners for 
this creature that we picked out of the mud. [He flings 
himself sulkily into the Elizabethan chair], 

Doolittle [remonstrating] Now, now, Henry Hig- 
gins ! have some consideration for my feelings as a middle 
class man. 

Mrs. Higgins. Remember your promise, Henry. [She 
presses the bell-button on the writing-table]. Mr. Doo- 
little: will you be so good as to step out on the balcony 
for a moment. I dont want Eliza to have the shock of 
your news until she has made it up with these two gen- 
tlemen. Would vou mind ? 

194 Pygmalion Act V 

Doolittle. As you wish, lady. Anything to help Hen- 
ry to keep her off my hands. [He disappears through the 

The parlor-maid answers the bell. Pickering sits 
down in Doolittle's place. 

Mrs. Higgins. Ask Miss Doolittle to come down, 

The Parlor-Maid. Yes, mam. [She goes out], 

Mrs. Higgins. Now, Henry: be good. 

Higgins. I am behaving myself perfectly. 

Pickering. He is doing his best, Mrs. Higgins. 

A pause. Higgins throws back his head; stretches 
out his legs; and begins to whistle. 

Mrs. Higgins. Henry, dearest, you dont look at all 
nice in that attitude. 

Higgins [pulling himself together] I was not try- 
ing to look nice, mother. 

Mrs. Higgins. It doesnt matter, dear. I only wanted 
to make you speak. 

Higgins. Why? 

Mrs. Higgins. Because you cant speak and whistle at 
the same time. 

Higgins groans. Another very trying pause. 

Higgins [springing up, out of patience] Where the 
devil is that girl? Are we to wait here all day? 

Eliza enters, sunny, self-possessed, and giving a stag- 
geringly convincing exhibition of ease of manner. She 
carries a little work-basket, and is very much at home. 
Pickering is too much taken aback to rise. 

Liza. How do you do, Professor Higgins? Are you 
quite well? 

Higgins [choking] Am I — [He can say no more], 

Liza. But of course you are : you are never ill. So glad 
to see you again, Colonel Pickering. [He rises hastily; 
and they shake hands] . Quite chilly this morning, isnt 
it? [She sits down on his left. He sits beside her]. 

Act V Pygmalion 195 

Higgins. Dont you dare try this game on me. I taught 
it to you; and it doesnt take me in. Get up and come 
home; and dont be a fool. 

Eliza takes a piece of needlework from her basket, and 
begins to stitch at it, without taking the least notice of 
this outburst. 

Mrs. Higgins. Very nicely put, indeed, Henry. No 
woman could resist such an invitation. 

Higgins. You let her alone, mother. Let her speak for 
herself. You will jolly soon see whether she has an idea 
that I havnt put into her head or a word that I havnt 
put into her mouth. I tell you I have created this thing 
out of the squashed cabbage leaves of Covent Garden; 
and now she pretends to play the fine lady with me. 

Mrs. Higgins [placidly] Yes, dear; but youll sit down, 
wont you? 

Higgins sits down again, savagely. 

"Liza [to Pickering, taking no apparent notice of Hig- 
gins, and working away deftly] Will you drop me alto- 
gether now that the experiment is over, Colonel Picker- 

Pickering. Oh dont. You mustnt think of it as an ex- 
periment. It shocks me, somehow. 

Liza. Oh, I'm only a squashed cabbage leaf — 

Pickering [impulsively] No. 

Liza [continuing quietly] — but I owe so much to you 
that I should be very unhappy if you forgot me. 

Pickering. It's very kind of you to say so, Miss Doo- 

Liza. It's not because you paid for my dresses. I know 
you are generous to everybody with money. But it was 
from you that I learnt really nice manners; and that is 
what makes one a lady, isnt it? You see it was so very 
difficult for me with the example of Professor Higgins al- 
ways before me. I was brought up to be just like him, 
unable to control myself, and using bad language on the 

196 Pygmalion Act V 

slightest provocation. And I should never have known 
that ladies and gentlemen didnt behave like that if you 
hadnt been there. 

Higgins. Well!! 

Pickering. Oh, thats only his way, you know. He 
doesnt mean it. 

Liza. Oh, I didnt mean it either, when I was a flower 
girl. It was only my way. But you see I did it ; and thats 
what makes the difference after all. 

Pickering. No doubt. Still, he taught you to speak; 
and I couldnt have done that, you know. 

Liza [trivially] Of course: that is his profession. 

Higgins. Damnation! 

Liza [continuing'] It was just like learning to dance in 
the fashionable way: there was nothing more than that 
in it. But do you know what began my real education? 

Pickering. What? 

Liza [stopping her work for a moment] Your calling 
me Miss Doolittle that day when I first came to Wimpole 
Street. That was the beginning of self-respect for me. 
[She resumes her stitching]. And there were a hundred 
little things you never noticed, because they came natur- 
ally to you. Things about standing up and taking off your 
hat and opening door — 

Pickering. Oh, that was nothing. 

Liza. Yes: things that shewed you thought and felt 
about me as if I were something better than a scullery- 
maid; though of course I know you would have been just 
the same to a scullery-maid if she had been let in the 
drawing-room. You never took off your boots in the dining 
room when I was there. 

Pickering. You mustnt mind that. Higgins takes off 
his boots all over the place. 

Liza. I know. I am not blaming him. It is his way, isnt 
it? But it made such a difference to me that you didnt 
do it. You see, really and truly, apart from the things 

Act V Pygmalion 197 

anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way 
of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady 
and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how shes 
treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Hig- 
gins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and 
always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because 
you always treat me as a lady, and always will. 

Mrs. Higgins. Please dont grind your teeth, Henry. 

Pickering. Well, this is really very nice of you, Miss 

Liza. I should like you to call me Eliza, now, if you 

Pickering. Thank you. Eliza, of course. 

Liza. And I should like Professor Higgins to call me 
Miss Doolittle. 

Higgins. I'll see you damned first. 

Mrs. Higgins. Henry! Henry! 

Pickering [laughing] Why dont you slang back at 
him ? Dont stand it. It would do him a lot of good. 

Liza. I cant. I could have done it once; but now I cant 
go back to it. Last night, when I was wandering about, a 
girl spoke to me; and I tried to get back into the old 
way with her ; but it was no use. You told me, you know, 
that when a child is brought to a foreign country, it picks 
up the language in a few weeks, and forgets its own. 
Well, I am a child in your country. I have forgotten 
my own language, and can speak nothing but yours. 
Thats the real break-off with the corner of Tottenham 
Court Road. Leaving Wimpole Street finishes it. 

Pickering [much alarmed] Oh! but youre coming 
back to Wimpole Street, arnt you? Youll forgive Hig- 

Higgins [rising] Forgive! Will she, by George! Let 
her go. Let her find out how she can get on without us. 
She will relapse into the gutter in three weeks without 
me at her elbow. 

198 Pygmalion Act V 

Doolittle appears at the centre window. With a look 
of dignified reproach at Higgins, he comes slowly and 
silently to his daughter, who, with her back to the win- 
dow, is unconscious of his approach. 

Pickering. Hes incorrigible, Eliza. You wont relapse, 
will you? 

Liza. No : Not now. Never again. I have learnt my les- 
son. I dont believe I could utter one of the old sounds 
if I tried. [Doolittle touches her on her left shoulder. 
She drops her work, losing her self-possession utterly at 
the spectacle of her father's splendor] A-a-a-a-a-ah-ow- 

Higgins [with a crow of triumph] Aha! Just so. A-a- 
a-a-ahowooh! A-a-a-a-ahowooh ! A-a-a-a-ahowooh ! Vic- 
tory ! Victory ! [He throws himself on the divan, folding 
his arms, and spraddling arrogantly]. 

Doolittle. Can you blame the girl? Dont look at me 
like that, Eliza. It aint my fault. Ive come into some 

Liza. You must have touched a millionaire this time, 

Doolittle. I have. But I'm dressed something special 
today. I'm going to St. George's, Hanover Square. Your 
stepmother is going to marry me. 

Liza [angrily] Youre going to let yourself down to 
marry that low common woman ! 

Pickering [quietly] He ought to, Eliza. [To Doolit- 
tle] Why has she changed her mind? 

Doolittle [sadly] Intimidated, Governor. Intimidat- 
ed. Middle class morality claims its victim. Wont you put 
on your hat, Liza, and come and see me turned off ? 

Liza. If the Colonel says I must, I — I'll [almost sob- 
bing] I'll demean myself. And get insulted for my pains, 
like enough. 

Doolittle. Dont be afraid: she never comes to words 

Act V * Pygmalion 199 

with anyone now, poor woman! respectability has broke 
all the spirit out of her. 

Pickering [squeezing Eliza's elbow gently] Be kind 
to them, Eliza. Make the best of it. 

Liza [forcing a little smile for him through her vexa- 
tion] Oh well, just to shew theres no ill feeling. I'll be 
back in a moment. [She goes out] . 

Doolittle [sitting down beside PicJcering] I feel un- 
common nervous about the ceremony, Colonel. I wish 
youd come and see me through it. 

Pickering. But youve been through it before, man. 
You were married to Eliza's mother. 

Doolittle. Who told you that, Colonel? 

Pickering. Well, nobody told me. But I concluded — 
naturally — 

Doolittle. No: that aint the natural way, Colonel: 
it's only the middle class way. My way was always the 
undeserving way. But dont say nothing to Eliza. She 
dont know: I always had a delicacy about telling her. 

Pickering. Quite right. We'll leave it so, if you dont 

Doolittle. And youll come to the church, Colonel, 
and put me through straight? 

Pickering. With pleasure. As far as a bachelor can. 

Mrs. Higgins. May I come, Mr. Doolittle? I should 
be very sorry to miss your wedding. 

Doolittle. I should indeed be honored by your con- 
descension, maam ; and my poor old woman would take it 
as a tremenjous compliment. Shes been very low, thinking 
of the happy days that are no more. 

Mrs. Higgins [rising] I'll order the carriage and get 
ready. [ The men rise, except Higgins] . I shant be more 
than fifteen minutes. [As she goes to the door Eliza comes 
in, hatted and buttoning her gloves], I'm going to the 
church to see your father married, Eliza. You had better 

200 Pygmalion Act V 

come in the brougham with me. Colonel Pickering can go 
on with the bridegroom. 

Mrs. Higgins goes out. Eliza comes to the middle of 
the room between the centre window and the ottoman. 
Pickering joins her. 

Doolittle. Bridegroom! What a word! It makes a 
man realize his position, somehow. [He takes up his hat 
and goes towards the door], 

Pickering. Before I go, Eliza, do forgive him and 
come back to us. 

Liza. I dont think papa would allow me. Would you, 

Doolittle [sad but magnanimous] They played you 
off very cunning, Eliza, them two sportsmen. If it had 
been only one of them, you could have nailed him. But 
you see, there was two; and one of them chaperoned the 
other, as you might say. [To Pickering] It was artful 
of you, Colonel ; but I bear no malice : I should have done 
the same myself. I been the victim of one woman after 
another all my life; and I dont grudge you two getting 
the better of Eliza. I shant interfere. It's time for us to 
go, Colonel. So long, Henry. See you in St. George's, 
Eliza. [He goes out], 

Pickering [coaxing] Do stay with us, Eliza. [He fol- 
lows Doolittle], 

Eliza goes out on the balcony to avoid being alone with 
Higgins. He rises and joins her there. She immediately 
comes back into the room and makes for the door; but 
he goes along the balcony quickly and gets his back to the 
door before she reaches it. 

Higgins. Well, Eliza, youve had a bit of your own 
back, as you call it. Have you had enough? and are you 
going to be reasonable? Or do you want any more? 

Liza. You want me back only to pick up your slippers 
and put up with your tempers and fetch and carry for 

Act V Pygmalion 201 

Higgins. I havnt said I wanted you back at all. 

Liza. Oh, indeed. Then what are we talking about? 

Higgins. About you, not about me. If you come back 
I shall treat you just as I have always treated you. I 
cant change my nature ; and I dont intend to change my 
manners. My manners are exactly the same as Colonel 

Liza. Thats not true. He treats a flower girl as if 
she was a duchess. 

Higgins. And I treat a duchess as if she was a flower 

Liza. I see. [She turns away composedly, and sits 
on the ottoman, facing the window] . The same to every- 

Higgins. Just so. 

Liza. Like father. 

Higgins [grinning, a little taken down] Without ac- 
cepting the comparison at all points, Eliza, it's quite true 
that your father is not a snob, and that he will be quite at 
home in any station of life to which his eccentric destiny 
may call him. [Seriously] The great secret, Eliza, is not 
having bad manners or good manners or any other particu- 
lar sort of manners, but having the same manner for all 
human souls : in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, 
where there are no third-class carriages, and one soul is 
as good as another. 

Liza. Amen. You are a born preacher. 

Higgins [irritated] The question is not whether I treat 
you rudely, but whether you ever heard me treat anyone 
else better. 

Liza [with sudden sincerity] I dont care how you treat 
me. I dont mind your swearing at me. I dont mind a 
black eye: Ive had one before this. But [standing up and 
facing him] I wont be passed over. 

Higgins. Then get out of my way; for I wont stop 
for you. You talk about me as if I were a motor bus. 

202 Pygmalion Act V 

Liza. So you are a motor bus : all bounce and go, and 
no consideration for anyone. But I can do without you: 
dont think I cant. 

Higgins. I know you can. I told you you could. 

Liza [wounded, getting away from him to the other 
side of the ottoman with her face to the hearth] I know 
you did, you brute. You wanted to get rid of me. 

Higgins. Liar. 

Liza. Thank you. [She sits down with dignity]. 

Higgins. You never asked yourself, I suppose, wheth- 
er I could do without you. 

Liza [earnestly] Dont you try to get round me. Youl! 
have to do without me. 

Higgins [arrogant] I can do without anybody. I have 
my own soul: my own spark of divine fire. But [with 
sudden humility] I shall miss you, Eliza. [He sits down 
near her on the ottoman] . I have learnt something from 
your idiotic notions : I confess that humbly and gratefully. 
And I have grown accustomed to your voice and appear- 
ance. I like them, rather. 

Liza. Well, you have both of them on your gramo- 
phone and in your book of photographs. When you feel 
lonely without me, you can turn the machine on. It's 
got no feelings to hurt. 

Higgins. I cant turn your soul on. Leave me those 
feelings; and you can take away the voice and the face. 
They are not you. 

Liza. Oh, you area devil. You can twist the heart 
in a girl as easy as some could twist her arms to hurt 
her. Mrs. Pearce warned me. Time and again she has 
wanted to leave you; and you always got round her at 
the last minute. And you dont care a bit for her. And 
you dont care a bit for me. 

Higgins. I care for life, for humanity; and you are 
a part of it that has come my way and been built into 
my house. What more can you or anyone ask? 

Act V Pygmalion 203 

Liza. I wont care for anybody that doesnt care for 

Higgixs. Commercial principles, Eliza. Like [repro- 
ducing her Covent Garden pronunciation with professional 
exactness} s'yollin voylets [selling violets], isnt it? 

Liza. Dont sneer at me. It's mean to sneer at me. 

Higgixs. I have never sneered in my life. Sneering 
doesnt become either the human face or the human soul. 
I am expressing my righteous contempt for Commercial- 
ism. I dont and wont trade in affection. You call me a 
brute because you couldnt buy a claim on me by fetching 
my slippers and finding my spectacles. You were a fool: 
I think a woman fetching a man's slippers is a disgusting 
sight : did I ever fetch your slippers ? I think a good 
deal more of you for throwing them in my face. Xo 
use slaving for me and then saying you want to be cared 
for: who cares for a slave? If you come back, come back 
for the sake of good fellowship ; for youll get nothing else. 
Youve had a thousand times as much out of me as I have 
out of you: and if you dare to set up your little dog's 
tricks of fetching and carrying slippers against my crea- 
tion of a Duchess Eliza, I'll slam the door in your silly 

Liza. What did you do it for if you didnt care for me ? 

Higgixs [heartily] Why, because it was my job. 

Liza. You never thought of the trouble it would make 
for me. 

Higgixs. Would the world ever have been made if its 
maker had been afraid of making trouble? Making life 
means making trouble. Theres only one way of escaping 
trouble; and thats killing things. Cowards, you notice, 
are always shrieking to have troublesome people killed. 

Liza. I'm no preacher: I dont notice things like that. 
I notice that you dont notice me. 

Higgixs [jumping up and walking about intolerantly] 
Eliza: youre an idiot. I waste the treasures of my Mil- 

204 Pygmalion Act V 

tonic mind by spreading them before you. Once for all, 
understand that I go my way and do my work without 
caring twopence what happens to either of us. I am not 
intimidated, like your father and your stepmother. So 
you can come back or go to the devil: which you please. 

Liza. What am I to come back for? 

Higgins [bouncing up on his knees on the ottoman and 
leaning over it to her] For the fun of it. Thats why I 
took you on. 

Liza [with averted face] And you may throw me out 
tomorrow if I dont do everything you want me to? 

Higgins. Yes; and you may walk out tomorrow if I 
dont do everything you want me to. 

Liza. And live with my stepmother? 

Higgins. Yes, or sell flowers. 

Liza. Oh ! if I only could go back to my flower 
basket ! I should be independent of both you and father 
and all the world ! Why did you take my independence 
from me? Why did I give it up? I'm a slave now, for 
all my fine clothes. 

Higgins. Not a bit. I'll adopt you as my daughter 
and settle money on you if you like. Or would you rather 
marry Pickering? 

Liza [looking fiercely round at him] I wouldnt marry 
y o u if you asked me ; and youre nearer my age than 
what he is. 

Higgins [gently] Than he is: not "than what he is." 

Liza [losing her temper and rising] I'll talk as I like. 
Youre not my teacher now. 

Higgins [reflectively] I dont suppose Pickering would, 
though. Hes as confirmed an old bachelor as I am. 

Liza. Thats not what I want; and dont you think it. 
Ive always had chaps enough wanting me that way. 
Freddy Hill writes to me twice and three times a day, 
sheets and sheets. 

Act V Pygmalion 205 

Higgins [disagreeably surprised] Damn his impu- 
dence! [He recoils and finds himself sitting on his 
heels] . 

Liza. He has a right to if he likes, poor lad. And 
he does love me. 

Higgins [getting off the ottoman] You have no right 
to encourage him. 

Liza. Every girl has a right to be loved. 

Higgins. What ! By fools like that ? 

Liza. Freddy's not a fool. And if hes weak and poor 
and wants me, may be hed make me happier than my 
betters that bully me and dont want me. 

Higgins. Can he make anything of you? Thats 
the point. 

Liza. Perhaps I could make something of him. But 
I never thought of us making anything of one another; 
and you never think of anything else. I only want to be 

Higgins. In short, you want me to be as infatuated 
about you as Freddy? Is that it? 

Liza. No I dont. Thats not the sort of feeling I 
want from you. And dont you be too sure of yourself or 
of me. I could have been a bad girl if I'd liked. Ive 
seen more of some things than you, for all your learning. 
Girls like me can drag gentlemen down to make love to 
them easy enough. And they wish each other dead the 
next minute. 

Higgins. Of course they do. Then what in thunder 
are we quarrelling about? 

Liza [much troubled] I want a little kindness. I know 
I'm a common ignorant girl, and you a book-learned gen- 
tleman; but I'm not dirt under your feet. What I done 
[correcting herself] what I did was not for the dresses 
and the taxis : I did it because we were pleasant together 
and I come — came — to care for you; not to want you to 

206 Pygmalion Act V 

make love to me, and not forgetting the difference between 
ns, but more friendly like. 

Higgins. Well, of course. Thats just how I feel. 
And how Pickering feels. Eliza: youre a fool. 

Liza. Thats not a proper answer to give me [she sinks 
on the chair at the writing-table in tears], 

Higgins. It's all youll get until you stop being a 
common idiot. If youre going to be a lady, youll have to 
give up feeling neglected if the men you know dont spend 
half their time snivelling over you and the other half 
giving you black eyes. If you cant stand the coldness of 
my sort of life, and the strain of it, go back to the gutter. 
Work til you are more a brute than a human being; and 
then cuddle and squabble and drink til you fall asleep. 
Oh, it's a fine life, the life of the gutter. It's real: it's 
warm: it's violent: you can feel it through the thickest 
skin : you can taste it and smell it without any training or 
any work. Not like Science and Literature and Classical 
Music and Philosophy and Art. You find me cold, un- 
feeling, selfish, dont you? Very well: be off with you 
to the sort of people you like. Marry some sentimental 
hog or other with lots of money, and a thick pair of lips 
to kiss you with and a thick pair of boots to kick you 
with. If you cant appreciate what youve got, youd better 
get what you can appreciate. 

Liza [desperate] Oh, you are a cruel tyrant. I cant 
talk to you: you turn everything against me: I'm always 
in the wrong. But you know very well all the time that 
youre nothing but a bully. You know I cant go back to 
the gutter, as you call it, and that I have no real friends 
in the world but you and the Colonel. You know well I 
couldnt bear to live with a low common man after you 
two ; and it's wicked and cruel of you to insult me by pre- 
tending I could. You think I must go back to Wimpole 
Street because I have nowhere else to go but father's. 
But dont you be too sure that you have me under your 

Act V Pygmalion 207 

feet to be trampled on and talked down. I'll marry 
Freddy, I will, as soon as hes able to support me. 

Higgins [sitting down beside her] Rubbish ! you shall 
marry an ambassador. You shall marry the Governor- 
General of India or the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, or 
somebody who wants a deputy-queen. I'm not going to 
have my masterpiece thrown away on Freddy. 

Liza. You think I like you to say that. But I havnt 
forgot what you said a minute ago ; and I wont be coaxed 
round as if I was a baby or a puppy. If I cant have kind- 
ness, I'll have independence. 

Higgins. Independence? Thats middle class blas- 
phemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul 
of us on earth. 

Liza [rising determinedly] I'll let you see whether I'm 
dependent on you. If you can preach, I can teach. I'll go 
and be a teacher. 

Higgins. Whatll you teach, in heaven's name? 

Liza. What you taught me. I'll teach phonetics. 

Higgins. Ha! Ha! Ha! 

Liza. I'll offer myself as an assistant to Professor 

Higgins [rising in a fury] What! That impostor! that 
humbug ! that toadying ignoramus ! Teach him my meth- 
ods! my discoveries! You take one step in his direction 
and I'll wring your neck. [He lays hands on her] . Do 
you hear? 

Liza [defiantly non-resistant] Wring away. What do I 
care? I knew youd strike me some day. [He lets her go, 
stamping with rage at having forgotten himself, and re- 
coils so hastily that he stumbles back into his seat on the 
ottoman]. Aha! Now I know how to deal with you. What 
a fool I was not to think of it before ! You cant take away 
the knowledge you gave me. You said I had a finer ear 
than you. And I can be civil and kind to people, which 
is more than you can. Aha ! Thats done you, Henry Hig- 

208 Pygmalion Act V 

gins, it has. Now I dont care that [snapping her fingers] 
for your bullying and your big talk. I'll advertize it in 
the papers that your duchess is only a flower girl that you 
taught, and that she'll teach anybody to be a duchess just 
the same in six months for a thousand guineas. Oh, when 
I think of myself crawling under your feet and being 
trampled on and called names, when all the time I had 
only to lift up my finger to be as good as you, I could just 
kick myself. 

Higgins [wondering at her] You damned impudent 
slut, you! But it's better than snivelling; better than 
fetching slippers and finding spectacles, isnt it? [Rising] 
By George, Eliza, I said I'd make a woman of you; and 
I have. I like you like this. 

Liza. Yes : you turn round and make up to me now that 
I'm not afraid of you, and can do without you. 

Higgins. Of course I do, you little fool. Five minutes 
ago you were like a millstone round my neck. Now youre 
a tower of strength: a consort battleship. You and I and 
Pickering will be three old bachelors together instead of 
only two men and a silly girl. 

Mrs. Higgins returns, dressed for the wedding. Eliza 
instantly becomes cool and elegant. 

Mrs. Higgins. The carriage is waiting, Eliza. Are you 
ready ? 

Liza. Quite. Is the Professor coming? 

Mrs. Higgins. Certainly not. He cant behave himself 
in church. He makes remarks out loud all the time on 
the clergyman's pronunciation. 

Liza. Then I shall not see you again, Professor. Good 
bye. [She goes to the door]. 

Mrs. Higgins [coming to Higgins] Good-bye, dear. 

Higgins. Good-bye, mother. [He is about to kiss her, 
when he recollects something]. Oh, by the way, Eliza, 
order a ham and a Stilton cheese, will you? And buy 
me a pair of reindeer gloves, number eights, and a tie 

Act V Pygmalion 209 

to match that new suit of mine, at Eale & Binman's. You 
can choose the color. [His cheerful, careless, vigorous 
voice shows that he is incorrigible]. 

Liza [disdainfully] Buy them yourself. [She sweeps 

Mrs. Higgins. I'm afraid youve spoiled that girl, Hen- 
ry. But never mind, dear: I'll buy you the tie and gloves. 

Higgins [sunnily] Oh, dont bother. She'll buy em all 
right enough. Good-bye. 

They kiss. Mrs. Higgins runs out. Higgins, left alone, 
rattles his cash in his pocket; chuckles; and disports 
himself in a highly self-satisfied manner. 

The rest of the story need not be shown in action, and 
indeed, would hardly need telling if our imaginations 
were not so enfeebled by their lazy dependence on the 
ready-mades and reach-me-downs of the ragshop in which 
Romance keeps its stock of "happy endings" to misfit 
all stories. Now, the history of Eliza Doolittle, though 
called a romance because of the transfiguration it records 
seems exceedingly improbable, is common enough. Such 
transfigurations have been achieved by hundreds of reso- 
lutely ambitions young women since Nell Gwynne set 
them the example by playing queens and fascinating kings 
in the theatre in which she began by selling oranges. 
Nevertheless, people in all directions have assumed, for 
no other reason than that she became the heroine of a 
romance, that she must have married the hero of it. This 
is unbearable, not only because her little drama, if acted 
on such a thoughtless assumption, must be spoiled, but 
because the true sequel is patent to anyone with a sense 
of human nature in general, and of feminine instinct in 

Eliza, in telling Higgins she would not marry him if 
he asked her, was not coquetting: she was announcing a 

210 Pygmalion 

well-considered decision. When a bachelor interests, and 
dominates, and teaches, and becomes important to a spin- 
ster, as Higgins with Eliza, she always, if she has char- 
acter enough to be capable of it, considers very seriously 
indeed whether she will play for becoming that bachelor's 
wife, especially if he is so little interested in marriage 
that a determined and devoted woman might capture him 
if she set herself resolutely to do it. Her decision will 
depend a good deal on whether she is really free to 
choose; and that, again, will depend on her age and in- 
come. If she is at the end of her youth, and has no se- 
curity for her livelihood, she will marry him because she 
must marry anybody who will provide for her. But at 
Eliza's age a good-looking girl does not feel that pres- 
sure : she feels free to pick and choose. She is therefore 
guided by her instinct in the matter. Eliza's instinct 
tells her not to marry Higgins. It does not tell her to 
give him up. It is not in the slightest doubt as to his 
remaining one of the strongest personal interests in her 
life. It would be very sorely strained if there was an- 
other woman likely to supplant her with him. But as 
she feels sure of him on that last point, she has no doubt 
at all as to her course, and would not have any, even if the 
difference of twenty years in age, which seems so great 
to youth, did not exist between them. 

As our own instincts are not appealed to by her con- 
clusion let us see whether we cannot discover some reason 
in it. When Higgins excused his indifference to young 
women on the ground that they had an irresistible rival 
in his mother, he gave the clue to his inveterate old- 
bachelordom. The case is uncommon only to the extent 
that remarkable mothers are uncommon. If an imagi- 
native boy has a sufficiently rich mother who has intelli- 
gence, personal grace, dignity of character without harsh- 
ness, and a cultivated sense of the best art of her time 
to enable her to make her house beautiful, she sets a 

Pygmalion 211 

standard for him against which very few women can 
struggle, besides effecting for him a disengagement of 
his affections, his sense of beauty, and his idealism from 
his specifically sexual impulses. This makes him a stand- 
ing puzzle to the huge number of uncultivated people 
who have been brought up in tasteless homes by common- 
place or disagreeable parents, and to whom, consequently, 
literature, painting, sculpture, music, and affectionate per- 
sonal relations come as modes of sex if they come at all. 
The word passion means nothing else to them; and that 
Higgins could have a passion for phonetics and idealize 
his mother instead of Eliza, would seem to them absurd 
and unnatural. Nevertheless, when we look round and 
see that hardly anyone is too ugly or disagreeable to find 
a wife or a husband if he or she wants one, whilst many 
old maids and bachelors are above the average in quality 
and culture, we cannot help suspecting that the dis- 
entanglement of sex from the associations with which it 
is so commonly confused, a disentanglement which per- 
sons of genius achieve by sheer intellectual analysis, is 
sometimes produced or aided by parental fascination. 

Now, though Eliza was incapable of thus explaining to 
herself Higgins's formidable powers of resistance to the 
charm that prostrated Freddy at the first glance, she was 
instinctively aware that she could never obtain a complete 
grip of him, or come between him and his mother (the 
first necessity of the married woman). To put it shortly, 
she knew that for some mysterious reason he had not the 
makings of a married man in him, according to her con- 
ception of a husband as one to whom she would be his 
nearest and fondest and warmest interest. Even had 
there been no mother-rival, she would still have refused 
to accept an interest in herself that was secondary to 
philosophic interests. Had Mrs. Higgins died, there 
would still have been Milton and the Universal Alpha- 
bet. Landor's remark that to those who have the greatest 

212 Pygmalion 

power of loving, love is a secondary affair, would not 
have recommended Landor to Eliza. Put that along 
with her resentment of Higgins's domineering superior- 
ity, and her mistrust of his coaxing cleverness in getting 
round her and evading her wrath when he had gone too 
far with his impetuous bullying, and you will see that 
Eliza's instinct had good grounds for warning her not to 
marry her Pygmalion. 

And now, whom did Eliza marry ? For if Higgins was 
a predestinate old bachelor, she was most certainly not a 
predestinate old maid. Well, that can be told very short- 
ly to those who have not guessed it from the indications 
she has herself given them. 

Almost immediately after Eliza is stung into proclaim- 
ing her considered determination not to marry Higgins, 
she mentions the fact that young Mr. Frederick Eyns- 
f ord Hill is pouring out his love for her daily through the 
post. Now Freddy is young, practically twenty years 
younger than Higgins: he is a gentleman (or, as Eliza 
would qualify him, a toff), and speaks like one; he is 
nicely dressed, is treated by the Colonel as an equal, 
loves her unaffectedly, and is not her master, nor ever 
likely to dominate her in spite of his advantage of social 
standing. Eliza has no use for the foolish romantic 
tradition that all women love to be mastered, if not ac- 
tually bullied and beaten. "When you go to women," 
says Nietzsche, "take your whip with you." Sensible 
despots have never confined that precaution to women: 
they have taken their whips with them when they have 
dealt with men, and been slavishly idealized by the men 
over whom they have flourished the whip much more than 
by women. No doubt there are slavish women as well 
as slavish men; and women, like men, admire those that 
are stronger than themselves. But to admire a strong 
person ano) to live under that strong person's thumb are 
ijwo different things. The weak may not be admired and 

Pygmalion 213 

hero-worshipped; but they are by no means disliked or 
shunned; and they never seem to have the least difficulty 
in marrying people who are too good for them. They 
may fail in emergencies; but life is not one long emer- 
gency: it is mostly a string of situations for which no 
exceptional strength is needed, and with which even rath- 
er weak people can cope if they have a stronger partner 
to help them out. Accordingly, it is a truth everywhere 
in evidence that strong people, masculine or feminine, 
not only do not marry stronger people, but do not shew 
any preference for them in selecting their friends. When 
a lion meets another with a louder roar "the first lion 
thinks the last a bore/' The man or woman who feels 
strong enough for two, seeks for every other quality in 
a partner than strength. 

The converse is also true. Weak people want to mar- 
ry strong people who do not frighten them too much; 
and this often leads them to make the mistake we de- 
scribe metaphorically as "biting off more than they can 
chew/' They want too much for too little; and when 
the bargain is unreasonable beyond all bearing, the union 
becomes impossible: it ends in the weaker party being 
either discarded or borne as a cross, which is worse. 
People who are not only weak, but silly or obtuse as well, 
are often in these difficulties. 

This being the state of human affairs, what is Eliza 
fairly sure to do when she is placed between Freddy and 
Higgins? Will she look forward to a lifetime of fetch- 
ing Higgins's slippers or to a lifetime of Freddy fetch- 
ing hers? There can be no doubt about the answer. 
Unless Freddy is biologically repulsive to her, and Hig- 
gins biologically attractive to a degree that overwhelms 
all her other instincts, she will, if she marries either of 
them, marry Freddy. 

And that is just what Eliza did. 

Complications ensued; but they were economic, not 

214 Pygmalion 

romantic. Freddy had no money and no occupation. 
His mother's jointure, a last relic of the opulence of 
Largelady Park, had enabled her to struggle along in 
Earlscourt with an air of gentility, but not to procure 
any serious secondary education for her children, much 
less give the boy a profession. A clerkship at thirty 
shillings a week was beneath Freddy's dignity, and ex- 
tremely distasteful to him besides. His prospects con- 
sisted of a hope that if he kept up appearances somebody 
would do something for him. The something appeared 
vaguely to his imagination as a private secretaryship or 
a sinecure of some sort. To his mother it perhaps ap- 
peared as a marriage to some lady of means who could 
not resist her boy's niceness. Fancy her feelings when 
he married a flower girl who had become declassee under 
extraordinary circumstances which were now notorious ! 

It is true that Eliza's situation did not seem wholly 
ineligible. Her father, though formerly a dustman, and 
now fantastically disclassed, had become extremely pop- 
ular in the smartest society by a social talent which tri- 
umphed over every prejudice and every disadvantage. 
Rejected by the middle class, which he loathed, he had 
shot up at once into the highest circles by his wit, his 
dustmanship (which he carried like a banner), and his 
Nietzschean transcendence of good and evil. At intimate 
ducal dinners he sat on the right hand of the Duchess; 
and in country houses he smoked in the pantry and was 
made much of by the butler when he was not feeding 
in the dining-room and being consulted by cabinet min- 
isters. But he found it almost as hard to do all this on 
four thousand a year as Mrs. Eynsford Hill to live in 
Earlscourt on an income so pitiably smaller that I have 
not the heart to disclose its exact figure. He absolutely 
refused to add the last straw to his burden by contrib* 
uting to Eliza's support. 

Thus Freddy and Eliza, now Mr. and Mrs. Eynsford 

Pygmalion 215 

Hill, would have spent a penniless honeymoon but for a 
wedding present of £500 from the Colonel to Eliza. It 
lasted a long time because Freddy did not know how to 
spend money, never having had any to spend, and Eliza, 
socially trained by a pair of old bachelors, wore her 
clothes as long as they held together and looked pretty, 
without the least regard to their being many months out 
of fashion. Still, £500 will not last two young people 
for ever; and they both knew, and Eliza felt as well, 
that they must shift for themselves in the end. She 
could quarter herself on Wimpole Street because it had 
come to be her home; but she was quite aware that she 
ought not to quarter Freddy there, and that it would not 
be good for his character if she did. 

Not that the Wimpole Street bachelors objected. When 
she consulted them, Higgins declined to be bothered about 
her housing problem when that solution was so simple. 
Eliza's desire to have Freddy in the house with her 
seemed of no more importance than if she had wanted an 
extra piece of bedroom furniture. Pleas as to Freddy's 
character, and the moral obligation on him to earn his 
own living, were lost on Higgins. He denied that Fred- 
dy had any character, and declared that if he tried to do 
any useful work some competent person would have the 
trouble of undoing it: a procedure involving a net loss 
to the community, and great unhappiness to Freddy him- 
self, who was obviously intended by Nature for such light 
work as amusing Eliza, which, Higgins declared, was a 
much more useful and honorable occupation than working 
in the city. When Eliza referred again to her project 
of teaching phonetics, Higgins abated not a jot of his 
violent opposition to it. He said she was not within ten 
years of being qualified to meddle with his pet subject; 
and as it was evident that the Colonel agreed with him, 
she felt she could not go against them in this grave mat- 
ter, and that she had no right, without Higgins's consent, 

216 Pygmalion 

to exploit the knowledge he had given her ; for his knowl- 
edge seemed to her as much his private property as his 
watch: Eliza was no communist. Besides, she was su- 
perstitiously devoted to them both, more entirely and 
frankly after her marriage than before it. 

It was the Colonel who finally solved the problem, 
which had cost him much perplexed cogitation. He one 
day asked Eliza, rather shyly, whether she had quite giv- 
en up her notion of keeping a flower shop. She replied 
that she had thought of it, but had put it out of her 
head, because the Colonel had said, that day at Mrs. 
Higgins's, that it would never do. The Colonel con- 
fessed that when he said that, he had not quite recovered 
from the dazzling impression of the day before. They 
broke the matter to Higgins that evening. The sole 
comment vouchsafed by him very nearly led to a serious 
quarrel with Eliza. It was to the effect that she would 
have in Freddy an ideal errand boy. 

Freddy himself was next sounded on the subject. He 
said he had been thinking of a shop himself; though it 
had presented itself to his pennilessness as a small place 
in which Eliza should sell tobacco at one counter whilst 
he sold newspapers at the opposite one. But he agreed 
that it would be extraordinarily jolly to go early every 
morning with Eliza to Covent Garden and buy flowers 
on the scene of their first meeting: a sentiment which 
earned him many kisses from his wife. He added that 
he had always been afraid to propose anything of the 
sort, because Clara would make an awful row about a step 
that must damage her matrimonial chances, and his moth- 
er could not be expected to like it after clinging for so 
many years to that step of the social ladder on which 
retail trade is impossible. r 

This difficulty was removed by an event highly unex- 
pected by Freddy's mother. Clara, in the course of her 
incursions into those artistic circles which were the high- 

Pygmalion 217 

est within her reach, discovered that her conversational 
qualifications were expected to include a grounding in 
the novels of Mr. H. G. Wells. She borrowed them in 
various directions so energetically that she swallowed 
them all within two months. The result was a conversion 
of a kind quite common today. A modern Acts of the 
Apostles would fill fifty whole Bibles if anyone were 
capable of writing it. 

Poor Clara, who appeared to Higgins and his mother 
as a disagreeable and ridiculous person, and to her own 
mother as in some inexplicable way a social failure, had 
never seen herself in either light; for, though to some 
extent ridiculed and mimicked in West Kensington like 
everybody else there, she was accepted as a rational and 
normal — or shall we say inevitable? — sort of human be- 
ing. At worst they called her The Pusher ; but to them no 
more than to herself had it ever occurred that she was 
pushing the air, and pushing it in a wrong direction. 
Still, she was not happy. She was growing desperate. 
Her one asset, the fact that her mother was what the 
Epsom greengrocer called a carriage lady had no ex- 
change value, apparently. It had prevented her from 
getting educated, because the only education she could 
have afforded was education with the Earlscourt green- 
grocer's daughter. It had led her to seek the society of 
her mother's class ; and that class simply would not have 
her, because she was much poorer than the greengrocer, 
and, far from being able to afford a maid, could not af- 
ford even a housemaid, and had to scrape along at home 
with an illiberally treated general servant. Under such 
circumstances nothing could give her an air of being a 
genuine product of Largelady Park. And yet its tra- 
dition made her regard a marriage with anyone within 
her reach as an unbearable humiliation. Commercial 
people and professional people in a small way were 
odious to her. She ran after painters and novelists; but 

£18 Pygmalion 

she did not charm them; and her bold attempts to pick 
up and practise artistic and literary talk irritated them. 
She was, in short, an utter failure, an ignorant, incom- 
petent, pretentious, unwelcome, penniless, useless little 
snob; and though she did not admit these disqualifica- 
tions (for nobody ever faces unpleasant truths of this 
kind until" the possibility of a way out dawns on them) 
she felt their effects too keenly to be satisfied with her 

Clara had a startling eyeopener when, on being sud- 
denly wakened to enthusiasm by a girl of her own age 
who dazzled her and produced in her a gushing desire to 
take her for a model, and gain her friendship, she dis- 
covered that this exquisite apparition had graduated 
from the gutter in a few months' time. It shook her so 
violently, that when Mr. H. G. Wells lifted her on the 
point of his puissant pen, and placed her at the angle 
of view from which the life she was leading and the 
society to which she clung appeared in its true relation 
to real human needs and worthy social structure, he 
effected a conversion and a conviction of sin comparable 
to the most sensational feats of General Booth or Gypsy 
Smith. Clara's snobbery went bang. Life suddenly be- 
gan to move with her. Without knowing how or why, 
she began to make friends and enemies. Some of the 
acquaintances to whom she had been a tedious or in- 
different or ridiculous affliction, dropped her: others be- 
came cordial. To her amazement she found that some 
"quite nice" people were saturated with Wells, and that 
this accessibility to ideas was the secret of their nice- 
ness. People she had thought deeply religious, and had 
tried to conciliate on that tack with disastrous results, 
suddenly took an interest in her, and revealed a hostility 
to conventional religion which she had never conceived 
possible except among the most desperate characters. 
They made her read Galsworthy; and Galsworthy ex- 

Pygmalion 219 

posed the vanity of Largelady Park and finished her. 
It exasperated her to think that the dungeon in which 
she had languished for so many unhappy years had been 
unlocked all the time, and that the impulses she had so 
carefully struggled with and stifled for the sake of keep- 
ing well with society, were precisely those by which 
alone she could have come into any sort of sincere human 
contact. In the radiance of these discoveries, and the 
tumult of their reaction, she made a fool of herself as 
freely and conspicuously as when she so rashly adopted 
Eliza's expletive in Mrs. Higgins's drawing-room; for 
the new-born Wellsian had to find her bearings almost 
as ridiculously as a baby; but nobody hates a baby for 
its ineptitudes, or thinks the worse of it for trying to 
eat the matches ; and Clara lost no friends by her follies. 
They laughed at her to her face this time; and she had 
to defend herself and fight it out as best she could. 

When Freddy paid a visit to Earlscourt (which he 
never did when he could possibly help it) to make the 
desolating announcement that he and his Eliza were 
thinking of blackening the Largelady scutcheon by open- 
ing a shop, he found the little household already con- 
vulsed by a prior announcement from Clara that she 
also was going to work in an old furniture shop in Dover 
Street, which had been started by a fellow Wellsian. 
This appointment Clara owed, after all, to her old social 
accomplishment of Push. She had made up her mind 
that, cost what it might, she would see Mr. Wells in the 
flesh; and she had achieved her end at a garden party. 
She had better luck than so rash an enterprise deserved. 
Mr. Wells came up to her expectations. Age had not 
withered him, nor could custom stale his infinite variety 
in half an hour. His pleasant neatness and compactness, 
his small hands and feet, his teeming ready brain, his 
unaffected accessibility, and a certain fine apprehensive- 
ness which stamped him as susceptible from his topmost 

220 Pygmalion 

hair to his tipmost toe, proved irresistible. Clara talked 
of nothing else for weeks and weeks afterwards. And 
as she happened to talk to the lady of the furniture shop, 
and that lady also desired above all things to know Mr. 
Wells and sell pretty things to him, she offered Clara a 
job on the chance of achieving that end through her. 

And so it came about that Eliza's luck held, and the 
expected opposition to the flower shop melted away. The 
shop is in the arcade of a railway station not very far 
from the Victoria and Albert Museum ; and if you live in 
that neighborhood you may go there any day and buy 
a buttonhole from Eliza. 

Now here is a last opportunity for romance. Would 
you not like to be assured that the shop was an immense 
success, thanks to Eliza's charms and her early business 
experience in Covent Garden? Alas! the truth is the 
truth: the shop did not pay for a long time, simply be- 
cause Eliza and her Freddy did not know how to keep it. 
True, Eliza had not to begin at the very beginning: she 
knew the names and prices of the cheaper flowers; and 
her elation was unbounded when she found that Freddy, 
like all youths educated at cheap, pretentious, and 
thoroughly inefficient schools, knew a little Latin. It was 
very little, but enough to make him appear to her a Por- 
son or Bentley, and to put him at his ease with botanical 
nomenclature. Unfortunately he knew nothing else ; and 
Eliza, though she could count money up to eighteen 
shillings or so, and had acquired a certain familiarity 
with the language of Milton from her struggles to 
qualify herself for winning Higgins's bet, could not 
write out a bill without utterly disgracing the establish- 
ment. Freddy's power of stating in Latin that Balbus 
built a wall and that Gaul was divided into three parts 
did not carry with it the slightest knowledge of accounts 
or business: Colonel Pickering had to explain to him 
what a cheque book and a bank account meant. And the 

Pygmalion 221 

pair were by no means easily teachable. Freddy backed 
up Eliza in her obstinate refusal to believe that they 
could save money by engaging a bookkeeper with some 
knowledge of the business. How, they argued, could you 
possibly save money by going to extra expense when you 
already could not make both ends meet? But the 
Colonel, after making the ends meet over and over again, 
at last gently insisted; and Eliza, humbled to the dust 
by having to beg from him so often, and stung by the up- 
roarious derision of Higgins, to whom the notion of 
Freddy succeeding at anything was a joke that never 
palled, grasped the fact that business, like phonetics, has 
to be learned. 

On the piteous spectacle of the pair spending their 
evenings in shorthand schools and polytechnic classes, 
learning bookkeeping and typewriting with incipient 
junior clerks, male and female, from the elementary 
schools, let me not dwell. There were even classes at 
the London School of Economics, and a humble personal 
appeal to the director of that institution to recommend a 
course bearing on the flower business. He, being a 
humorist, explained to them the method of the celebrated 
Dickensian essay on Chinese Metaphysics by the gentle- 
man who read an article on China and an article on 
Metaphysics and combined the information. He sug- 
gested that they should combine the London School with 
Kew Gardens. Eliza, to whom the procedure of the 
Dickensian gentleman seemed perfectly correct (as in 
fact it was) and not in the least funny (which was only 
her ignorance) took his advice with entire gravity. But 
the effort that cost her the deepest humiliation was a re- 
quest to Higgins, whose pet artistic fancy, next to Mil- 
ton's verse, was caligraphy, and who himself wrote a 
most beautiful Italian hand, that he would teach her to 
write. He declared that she was congenitally incapable 
of forming a single letter worthy of the least of Milton's 

222 Pygmalion 

words; but she persisted; and again he suddenly threw 
himself into the task of teaching her with a combination 
of stormy intensity, concentrated patience, and occasional 
bursts of interesting disquisition on the beauty and 
nobility, the august mission and destiny, of human hand- 
writing. Eliza ended by acquiring an extremely uncom- 
mercial script which was a positive extension of her per- 
sonal beauty, and spending three times as much on sta- 
tionery as anyone else because certain qualities and 
shapes of paper became indispensable to her. She could 
not even address an envelope in the usual way because it 
made the margins all wrong. 

Their commercial school days were a period of dis- 
grace and despair for the young couple. They seemed 
to be learning nothing about flower shops. At last they 
gave it up as hopeless, and shook the dust of the short- 
hand schools, and the polytechnics, and the London 
School of Economics from their feet for ever. Besides, 
the business was in some mysterious way beginning to 
take care of itself. They had somehow forgotten their 
objections to employing other people. They came to the 
conclusion that their own way was the best, and that 
they had really a remarkable talent for business. The 
Colonel, who had been compelled for some years to keep 
a sufficient sum on current account at his bankers to make 
up their deficits, found that the provision was unneces- 
sary: the young people were prospering. It is true that 
there was not quite fair play between them and their 
competitors in trade. Their week-ends in the country 
cost them nothing, and saved them the price of their 
Sunday dinners ; for the motor car was the Colonel's ; and 
he and Higgins paid the hotel bills. Mr. F. Hill, florist 
and greengrocer (they soon discovered that there was 
money in asparagus; and asparagus led to other veg- 
etables), had an air which stamped the business as 
classy; and in private life he was still Frederick Eyns- 

Pygmalion 223 

ford Hill, Esquire. Not that there was any swank about 
him : nobody but Eliza knew that he had been christened 
Frederick Challoner. Eliza herself swanked like any- 

That is all. That is how it has turned out. It is 
astonishing how much Eliza still manages to meddle in 
the housekeeping at Wimpole Street in spite of the shop 
and her own family. And it is notable that though she 
never nags her husband, and frankly loves the Colonel 
as if she were his favorite daughter, she has never got 
out of the habit of nagging Higgins that was established 
on the fatal night when she won his bet for him. She 
snaps his head off on the faintest provocation, or on 
none. He no longer dares to tease her by assuming an 
abysmal inferiority of Freddy's mind to his own. He 
storms and bullies and derides ; but she stands up to him 
so ruthlessly that the Colonel has to ask her from time 
to time to be kinder to Higgins; and it is the only re- 
quest of his that brings a mulish expression into her face. 
Nothing but some emergency or calamity great enough to 
break down all likes and dislikes, and throw them both 
back on their common humanity — and may they be 
spared any such trial! — will ever alter this. She knows 
that Higgins does not need her, just as her father did 
not need her. The very scrupulousness with which he 
told her that day that he had become used to having her 
there, and dependent on her for all sorts of little services, 
and that he should miss her if she went away (it would 
never have occurred to Freddy or the Colonel to say any- 
thing of the sort) deepens her inner certainty that she is 
"no more to him than them slippers", yet she has a 
sense, too, that his indifference is deeper than the in- 
fatuation of commoner souls. She is immensely inter- 
ested in him. She has even secret mischievous moments 
in which she wishes she could get him alone, on a desert 
island, away from all ties and with nobody else in the 

224 Pygmalion 

world to consider, and just drag him off his pedestal and 
see him, making love like any common man. We all have 
private imaginations of that sort. But when it comes 
to business, to the life that she really leads as dis- 
tinguished from the life of dreams and fancies, she likes 
Freddy and she likes the Colonel; and she does not like 
Higgins and Mr. Doolittle. Galatea never does quite 
like Pygmalion: his relation to her is too godlike to be 
altogether agreeable. 


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